Lanes in construction areas expected to be open for game-day traffic

Tuesday, October 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) _ Crews working on Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma-Texas state line say they will have all lanes open for Sooners heading to Dallas to watch the Red River Shootout this weekend.

Last weekend Interstate 35 near Ardmore was backed up for four to five miles because of lane closures in construction areas.

Craig Wallace shudders to think what the situation would be this weekend if people headed to Dallas were faced with the same bottleneck.

Wallace, project manager for Keck Construction said all lanes will be open for 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday for game traffic.

That's part of the $21.9 million in contracts Keck has with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for two projects stretching about 14 miles on I-35.

The company will be fined $4,000 per lane, per hour if all four lanes aren't open.

That's half a million dollars at stake during the weekend. Wallace will make sure the lanes are open, but he won't be headed south for the game.

``I'm concerned about this weekend because of the job situation, but I'm an OSU alumnus,'' he said Monday afternoon. ``I'll be sitting in the stands at Stillwater (on Saturday), far away from this project, watching the Kansas State game.''

The lanes will be open and the posted speed limit will be 60 mph, Wallace said. The area will still be a construction zone and crews may be working.

``Highway (U.S.) 77 is a nice, scenic route,'' he suggested, ``and if you're coming from Tulsa, you can take (U.S.) 75. But the main thing is to be careful.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol plans to increase its patrols along the highway, said 1st Lt. Charles Strasbaugh, commander of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's Troop F in Ardmore.

``We've beefed up the schedule and we're encouraging troopers to stay on or near the interstate,'' he said.

Road work also continues in Oklahoma City at the junction of I-35 and I-240, where the speed limit is reduced to 45 mph.

In Denton, Texas, where I-35 splits to go to Fort Worth and Dallas, there is also road construction.

From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the northbound lane of I-35 will be closed for about two miles from the split to U.S. 380.

``This is typically a high traffic volume weekend,'' said Kerri Howell, assistant public information officer for the Dallas District of the Texas Department of Transportation. ``Though lane closures may not be in effect at all times, these areas are still work zones. Contractor equipment and traffic control devices are in the work zones.''