Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

TOP STORY >>New lanes set to open

Leader staff writer

Within the next couple of weeks, northbound traffic on Hwy. 67/167 will shift onto the new pavement between McCain Boulevard and Wildwood, according to Dan Flowers, director of the state Highway and Transportation Department.

That should take some of the orange barrels and doglegs out of one of the most heavily traveled sections of highway in the state, but although a third lane is complete in that section each direction, the highway will remain two lanes each direction until the rest of the work is done to avoid bottlenecks and promote safety.

Until then, motorists should continue to expect the unexpected—lane shifts, slower speeds, sudden stops and workers and equipment close to traffic.

When the new Brookswood flyover is completed within a year, Warden and Landers roads will both be converted to one-way roads between Wildwood and Kiehl Avenues, he said. Once converted, that means that Landers Road will be one-way north from McCain Boulevard to Kiehl and Warden Road will be one-way south from Kiehl Avenue to McCain, according to Glenn Bollick, a Highway Department spokesman.

The Brookswood flyover will be similar to the one already in use yards shy of McCain Boulevard, which is a dedicated structure that allows southbound Warden Road traffic to come around to northbound Landers Road without getting involved with local traffic and signals at the already crowded McCain Boulevard, according to Bollick.

The Brookswood flyover, which currently hangs half completed over the northbound lanes of Hwy. 67/167, will allow the northbound traffic on Warden to come over the highway and join southbound traffic on Warden.

The highway carries about 70,000 vehicles a day, according to Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the state Highway and Transportation Committee.

The highway is also being widened from four lanes to six lanes. That work is finished so far from McCain to Wildwood, but the fifth and sixth lanes won’t be open until the entire stretch from I-40 to Redmond Road at Jacksonville is complete.

That section, finished in 2005 by Muskogee Bridge Company, was begun in November 2002. It cost $22.5 million and included the McCain flyover, a frontage road crossunder from the new Gander Mountain/Tractor Supply Company center and a dedicated lane at Wildwood to allow traffic to move from the northbound Landers frontage road to southbound Warden.
The construction currently underway includes six-laning 1.4 miles of Hwy. 67-167 from McCain Boulevard to I-40 and also 2.1 miles of the highway from Wildwood Avenue to Kiehl Avenue in Sherwood, Bollick said.

That project, which includes a new highway overpass at Kiehl opened just last week, is being constructed by Weaver-Baily Contractors of El Paso (White County) for $42.25 million and is slated for completion this summer. The old structure began coming down April 4.

The on and off ramps are currently being paved. After that, traffic on the northbound main lanes will shift to the new pavement and work will begin on the southbound lanes from Kiehl to Wildwood. Work currently beginning between Redmond Road and I- 440 is a separate project.