A proposed interchange on US 412 near Port of Catoosa raising ire of neighbors

Wednesday, May 21st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A road project near Catoosa has upset residents who fear they'll lose their homes. The state has started planning a new interchange at US Highway 412 and the Kerr-McLellan shipping channel.

If it were built - some homes would have to be bulldozed. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the interchange in question is located just west of the navigation channel on US Highway 412.

It would alleviate a traffic hazard - but would change the landscape out here so much many residents hope it never happens. The problem is clear - lots of big trucks exit 412 at the shipping channel, and then travel a road that's so narrow trucks can't pass in some places. That narrow road is just over the fence from Anita Morris' home - a home threatened by plans to build an interchange and a new road down to the port. "We need to plan a life, my parents have lived here for 55 years, they're devastated they don't know where they'll go, and none of us do."

Anita and many of her neighbors were born on this land. To see it threatened is upsetting - but what made them mad was not knowing it was threatened - even though it's been in the works for almost a year - some heard about it only within the last month.

They took out some of their anger on Gary Evans from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation - who discussed with them what he says is a very uncertain plan. “This map and these streets right here don't mean anything, they're just lines on a piece of paper and they mean something to you, homes there.”

The map that got everybody worried shows off ramps and cloverleafs crossing property that's been farmland since statehood. The interchange would provide the connection between 412 and the shipping channel - a plan that requires some extra land on the south side of the highway.

Anita Morris doesn't deny the need for a better road - she just hopes in the big plans to build a road - she and her neighbors are not forgotten. “They need to take into consideration what they're doing on the personal side.” The state doesn't have the money to build the interchange - but the federal government does.

2nd District Congressman Brad Carson's office says he'll ask for $18.4 million dollars to build it. Congress will consider it this summer and the money could be available as soon as next summer.