ODOT Puts Brakes On Controversial Plan To Re-Route Muskogee's Highway 69
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation put the brakes on a controversial plan to re-route traffic from one of Muskogee's major highways.
The Highway 69 bypass has been a hot topic for city leaders and business owners for the past two years.
Pastor Kelly Payne said the proposed Highway 69 reroute put his life completely on hold.
"We couldn't get any answers, and it was almost like, 'Okay, if you're doing it, just do it.'" Payne said. "We just want to know!"
Payne said the new highway would have threatened homes in the area.
"My house, my parents' home, as well as several people that attend church here are in the path," he said.
It also would have required Timothy Baptist Church to be demolished.
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"We don't have to have our life on pause anymore," Payne said. "We can move on with what we feel like God wants us to do and what we're ready to do."
Payne said it put plans for his church's expansion to the backburner for almost two years.
Former Muskogee Mayor and ODOT Transportation Commissioner Bob Coburn said the re-route was a major concern for city leaders.
"It may have been a plan that looked good on paper," Coburn said. "But if you look at it from the stand point of the citizens of Muskogee, the city of Muskogee - it created me a significant amount of concern."
Coburn said the community played a big role in ODOT's change of heart.
"The amount of public resistance I think was a pretty significant eyeopener to ODOT," he said.
Coburn said they're now looking into widening 69 to alleviate traffic pressure on the highly-driven highway.
Coburn said talks about what work could be done to the existing highway 69 could start as early as this week.