Shoulder Work Causing Backup For Dysfunction Junction

Friday, September 11th 2009, 5:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - Drivers, heading east of Tulsa for the weekend, should pack a little extra time and patience.  Crews have closed the right eastbound lane of I-44 at 193rd East Avenue to work on the shoulder.  And, it's making Dysfunction Junction even more of a traffic nightmare.  ODOT has smart signs that are supposed to help better navigate the traffic jam.  But, some drivers question just how accurate are those signs?

On Friday afternoon, traffic was bumper to bumper for miles and miles.

"I drive from Jenks to Catoosa every day in the morning and the evening. And, this traffic is horrible," said driver Richard Croll.

I-44 near 193rd East Avenue has a reputation for traffic trouble.  But, the logjam turns into a standstill when construction squeezes the flow of cars down to one lane.

ODOT's smart signs are supposed to help you plan, but some drivers are waving their own caution flag.

"Real inaccurate.  Real inaccurate," said driver Richard Croll.

The News On 6 decided to put one of the signs to the test.

At 129th East Avenue, the signed flashed 21 or 22 minutes before the end of the work zone.  After 10 minutes, our crew hadn't reached I-44, yet.  Cars and trucks crept along inch by inch in front of our crew and trailed in an ever-growing line behind our vehicle.

And, even the billboards seemed to be mocking the predicament.

It took about 24 minutes to get from I-44 to 161st East Avenue. At that location, there was a new road sign that said our crew should be clear of the work zone in 16 minutes.

Once the Hard Rock Casino was in sight, the traffic seemed to ease up.  And, our crew was clear of the construction two minutes faster than the sign predicted.

A frequent I-44 commuter believes the signs are often unpredictable.

"I've seen one that said five minutes to end of work zone the average speed is 45 miles an hour. A mile later and I'm stopped. And, it takes me 30 minutes to get to here," said driver Richard Croll.      

Croll opted out of the highway and took the low roads.

"It doesn't matter if the sign is telling you what time it's gonna be, you just know another way is gonna be faster," said driver Richard Croll.

ODOT says the lane should be reopened by noon on Saturday.