The money to widen I-44 through Tulsa could be approved as early as this summer or it could be five years - or more. Thatâ€™s causing worries for people in the path of the widening project, where the state plans to add 2 lanes to I-44 from Yale to the Arkansas River.
News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the widening I-44 will cost $275-million and take 6 years. The state will have to buy out about 60 businesses mainly on the south side, and some homes on the north side.
The uncertainty over when it's going to happen that has a lot of people concerned.
A couple of important handshakes took place Tuesday, between the top men at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the man considered the mayor of 51st Street. Jamil's Restaurant has been in Tulsa for 50 years - along the congested stretch of I-44 that is going to be widened. The question is when. Tyrone Elias called a meeting of a few friends, hoping to get some answers - and more than 400 people showed up.
The top brass from ODOT could only say answers will come when the money does. Gary Ridley, ODOT Director: â€œIt's totally tied to funding. If we had all the money in place today, it would be a project that would take five or six years.â€
The state says the section it wants to widen is the most dangerous stretch of highway in the state, with 12 fatalities in the last five years, and 328 injuries. For the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the bottom line is the road has to be widened but they don't have the money. For the people who live along I-44 or have businesses here, that means they have no idea of when they'll need to move.
Lady: â€œI can see four lanes - soon I'll see 8 lanes.â€
Business owner Dr Paul Inbody: "They're going to take my building, maybe give me $300,000 and it will take me $500,000 to rebuild and they can't say when, 18 months from now or longer, I need to know."
Many people left with few of their questions answered. The state says they can't say when the road will be widened until they know when they'll get the money to do the job. The state plans to have its own public meeting in June. By then, they hope to know more about the money.
A lot of people wanted to know the planned path of the road, so we've included a map. Click Here
to view that map.