Dealing with traffic problems around the Cherokee Casino at Catoosa

Thursday, February 10th 2005, 6:12 am
By: News On 6

There's an effort underway to unsnarl the traffic tie-up at what's becoming a top attraction in northeastern Oklahoma.

We're talking about the junction of I-44 and 193rd East Avenue, leading to the big new Cherokee Casino. The problems can be big during right at rush hour. News on 6 anchor Craig Day reports.

George Garrett travels near I-44 and 193rd Street just about every day. He says his time spent delayed in traffic is getting longer. "Lot of traffic. You can't hardly get through the intersections without almost hitting somebody."

This section of the interstate has always been a busy commuter route. Now there is the added traffic of people excited about going to the multi million dollar Cherokee Casino nearby.

Claremore resident Tara Wolf: "With the incentives that they're giving on. They have $5 nights. They have certain nights. On ladies night, they give you $5 to come to the casino. And with the entertainment. It’s really booming. It's really booming."

The Cherokee Nation has widened a portion of 193rd Street in front of the casino. They've also added traffic lights and an access road to handle more vehicles. The tribe has also lobbied for millions of dollars in additional federal funds for road improvements.

This area is expected to boom with commercial activity in the coming years. There is a plan to handle the anticipated growth. But you won't see any changes, at least to the Interstate, any time soon.

The Oklahoma State Department of Transportation has had plans to widen I-44 to eight lanes between 163rd and 193rd for quite some time. But it will be 2008 when the project gets the green light. So until then, drivers will just have to have plenty of patience when they get behind the wheel.

Between 70,000 to 80,000 cars travel down the stretch of I-44 each day. The casino parking lot holds 2,400 cars at a time, so there is usually a steady stream of traffic in the area.