State Senators Reveal Changes for Catoosa Interchange

Tuesday, November 2nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A semi-truck was involved in an accident Tuesday morning on U-S 66 at the I-44 interchange. Investigators say the truck failed to make the curve onto I-44 and overturned. A woman in the semi's sleeper cab was injured and transported to the hospital. The driver suffered only minor injuries. The accident was no surprise to some Oklahoma senators. A group fought to have the interchange revamped because they say it's the most dangerous piece of highway in the state.

Cars and trucks merge in two different places on the Catoosa interchange. Oklahoma State senators say the interchange is dangerous because traffic is moving at a high rate of speed when the highway bottlenecks. "It's just truly a death trap,” said State Senator Kevin Easley, (D) Broken Arrow. “I challenged the department to find any place in Oklahoma that was more poorly designed and they were not able to come up with any other place." Easley was one of two lawmakers who fought to have the interchange revamped. Easley says it was supposed to be reconstructed along with the Creek Turnpike extension. But recently, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation called off the project. "The department indicated they ran out of money, Easley explained. “My position was if they're going to run out of money, they need to run out of money in Oklahoma City, not in Tulsa." So ODOT agreed to reconstruct the interchange.

People who drive the highways say they're glad because it was poorly designed.
"The traffic comes off I-44 at a high rate of speed and then, with the slower traffic merging from Catoosa and 412, it’s dangerous,” said Enid truck driver David Rehm. “Traffic comes at you from all sides."

Presently, Interstate 44, U-S 412, and Oklahoma 66 all branch out at the Catoosa interchange. There is also access to the Will Rogers Turnpike. In two years, it will change. A new ramp will be built to connect Oklahoma 66, and four lanes will run east and west. A new interchange will be built about a mile to the east that will connect the Creek Turnpike and the Will Rogers Turnpike. The project is estimated to cost $10 million. Easley says these changes should help straighten out the problem. Construction of the new interchange project will begin next summer and should be finished by 2002.