Closed Bridge Over Keystone Dam Brings Slew Of Traffic Through Sand Springs

Wednesday, November 27th 2013, 11:07 pm
By: Tess Maune

It's not the holiday backing up traffic in Sand Springs.

About 30,000 cars travel Highway 97 each day, but a detour has added thousands of additional drivers to the already packed roads.

Cars and trucks lined up as far as the eye could see on Highway 97 Wednesday.

"It's pretty bad, the traffic's pretty bad," said Mannford resident Melissa Payne.

It's not an uncommon sight along the stretch of highway in Sand Springs, but one Payne said has gotten considerably worse since the Keystone Bridge closed for construction last month.

"Oh my God, I had to sit at McDonald's a while ago for like five minutes to get out, and normally you don't have to," Payne said.

Sand Springs Infrastructure Administrator Vernon Smith said nearly 8,000 drivers, who used Highway 412, were re-routed straight through the busiest section of town.

10/28/2013 Related Story: Highway 151 Over Keystone Dam Closed For Repairs

"People that are commuting to Tulsa from the Mannford area have to come this way, basically. There are few alternatives to that.," Smith said.

Orville Burgess is one of those drivers.

"I drive into Tulsa all the time," he said.

But unlike many others, the traffic hasn't slowed him down.

"I don't get in no hurry for nobody. I can take my time. I ain't got nothing but time," Burgess said.

Still, other drivers say all the congestion and the stop-and-go from stoplights out of sync are a pain.

The city says it does have a few plans to help streamline all this traffic. One of those is to add another stoplight right between Weikwa and Morrow Roads.

The detour is also putting more drivers on Highway 51 between Mannford and Sand Springs, which isn't a bad thing for the only gas station along that stretch of road.

"Oh, it's busy. It's really busy, which is good. It's extra money coming in, the store's busy and everything, so it's good for that," said Toni Dusina, a clerk at Sav-A-Trip.

And Smith said, despite what some might think, the extra traffic isn't taking a toll on the roads, just drivers.

"It's wear and tear on people's nerves and the police pens, writing tickets," Smith said.

Smith said once the new traffic light is installed, it will be synchronized to all of the other signals, which should help move traffic more smoothly through town. He says the signal could go up within the next 30 days.