Tulsa's I-44 widening project

Friday, February 18th 2005, 11:23 am
By: News On 6

The plan to widen I-44 in Tulsa and the people waiting to hear what's going to happen. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has a route planned, but there are lots of obstacles in the way - not the least of which - is the money to do the work.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says ODOT can't say when, but they can say where. At Lewis, the road will move south, opening up the worst bottleneck on the highway - and taking out a lot of businesses along the way.

Doctor Troy Cools knows all about the benefits of good alignment - he's a chiropractor. His practice is right next to I-44, and to improve the highway's alignment - ODOT will have to bulldoze his building. "Well I knew this thing was coming through. That's why people haven't been able to sell things up and down here; nobody wants to buy something that's going to be in the middle of the highway."

Cool Chiropractic is along what ODOT considers a dangerously sharp curve on I-44 near Lewis. The solution is to straighten and widen the highway - a project that will cost more than $260-million.

It's Tulsa's busiest highway - and the state wants to widen it to six lanes from Riverside to Yale. Some houses are in the way, mainly on the south side of the interstate but far more businesses will be bulldozed - most of them between Lewis and Harvard. Ray Sanders, ODOT Project Manager: “There will be some homes and businesses impacted by the project but this is the alignment that provided the least amount of impacts.”

Sanders says there's no way to widen the highway without taking houses because they're so close as it is. To get the I-44 up to modern standards - the lanes will be wider, the ramps will be longer, and the road will be much straighter.

At intersections like Peoria - there's more room - so while at least one business will go, the Camelot Hotel might be safe. Further east towards Lewis and Harvard - the businesses are much closer to the road - and dozens will have to move out to make room.

The big question is when - and at the earliest - the work on the east end starts a year from now at Yale. It will likely move west but there is not even an estimate of when the job could be done because it all depends on the money.

A map showing the current and planned path of the highway is available by