Possible Interstate Changes Could Affect West Tulsa Businesses

Thursday, November 2nd 2017, 10:31 pm
By: Ashley Izbicki

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is studying the the Interstate 44-Highway 75 interchange and not everyone is happy about possible changes.

A public meeting wrapped up Thursday night.

ODOT said this is the first step of the study to look at improvements along I-44, a stretch of interstate notorious for bad accidents and heavy congestion. 

It's a west Tulsa icon.

"Nothing fancy, just an old-fashioned quality burger," said Frank Arnold, owner of Arnold's Old Fashioned Hamburgers.

The restaurant serves up burgers, fries and milkshakes to more than 600 customers a day.

The doors have been open on 51st Street for 32 years.

"I'm always nervous any time there's change involved. I don't want it to negatively affect us," Arnold said.

Nearly 85,000 vehicles drive through his backyard everyday.

And that number is expected to go up nearly 50 percent in the next 30 years.

"A lot of accidents take place right here in my back door, and ah, because it's the oldest stretch of the highway here," Arnold said.

That's why ODOT hopes to improve safety and traffic flow.

"Having this study in our back pocket will help give us kind of a leg up if we hear of any grant opportunities available," said Kenna Mitchell, ODOT public information manager.

Community members packed Webster High School to learn more about the study.

ODOT mapped out its preferred design. It would widen the interstate to six lanes, rebuild direct ramp connections and extend 51st Street to connect under

Highway 75.

"There could be impacts to property. we just don't know at this time where those would be," Mitchell said.

ODOT said just like the improvements between Riverside and Yale, there will be a lot of questions left unanswered probably for years.

"It might be a little rough during the process, some detours and stuff like that. I'm concerned about that, because that always happens. But, I'm sure we've made it 32 years and we'll make it another 30 years," Arnold said.