Work On I-44 At Catoosa Set To Begin

Sunday, May 10th 2009, 6:15 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

CATOOSA, OK -- The latest round of construction could cause some traffic headaches Monday morning, when work will begin on Dysfunction Junction.

The infamous Catoosa intersection is undergoing a major makeover this year. Crews will shut down a lane this week to do utility work.

Even on a Sunday afternoon, Dysfunction Junction at Interstate 44 and 193rd East Avenue can be a hassle for drivers.

"I've been here 21 years, and it's been going on ever since then," Catoosa resident Lee Brown said.

"You live here, you learn to be in traffic," driver Lisa Turnahm said.

The narrow road that sits off I-44 is one of the state's busiest intersections.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says 68,000 cars pass by every day on I-44, and 14,000 use 193rd.

That road leads to the Cherokee Casino and Port of Catoosa and is notorious for backups, but ODOT says that will all change soon.

"This is a junction that does need a lot of updating," ODOT spokeswoman Kenna Mitchell said. "There's a functionally obsolete bridge, a structurally deficient bridge. It's just too narrow to handle the traffic out there, so this project is really going to help improve this area."

Monday through Friday, the southbound lane of 193rd will be shut down so crews can move utilities.

Later this summer, work will begin on a $50 million makeover.

Lanes on I-44 and 193rd will double, new bridges will be built on the interstate and on and off ramps will be widened.

Even after the construction begins, expect Dysfunction Junction to continue to live up to its name. ODOT says it should take almost two years to complete the work.

But traffic headaches are nothing new, so if it means fewer hassles in the future, local drivers are willing to put up with the construction.

"I hate that it has to happen, but it needs to happen," Brown said. "Yeah, I'll live with it."