One of the most dangerous intersections in the state, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, is now safer for Oklahoma drivers.
At the intersection of Highway 69 and Oktaha Road near Summit in Muskogee County, the state installed lights at the intersection, hoping to help drivers see oncoming traffic.
Pastor Charles Moore drives through this intersection every week to get to his church. He said every time he does, he thinks of his late friend and parishioner, Alicia Gates. Gates died in an accident at the intersection of Hwy 69 and Oktaha Road four years ago.
“We miss her a lot,” said Moore. “Every time we pass by that area, we think about how much that accident impacted each person’s life.”
Moore said Gates is one of the many victims who lost their lives here, and after years of seeing horrific accidents, he was motivated to take action.
“It’s been something that’s been long overdue that we can make a change there because every life is important,” Moore added.
The state first reduced the speed from 65 mph to 55 mph and put up more speed limit signs. People who use the intersection say what makes this area unsafe is the high traffic volume, high speeds and low visibility. Therefore, county and state leaders installed four lights to help fix this problem.
Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke and state transportation chairman Avery Frix worked with ODOT to install the lights. They hope the extra lighting will make a difference.
“The lights were expensive, but there’s no price you can put on the value of lives. ODOT has been good at taking into consideration the safety of drivers, and the things they can do to make people safer,” Doke said.
“It’s right here in my house district. That's incredibly important for me, because this road is important for people to drive and people to travel in a safe manner,” said Frix.
Moore said he’s happy with the lights and is now advocating for a bridge.
“The lights are still the icing on the cake. We really would like to have something that would be permanent and not temporary,” Moore said.
ODOT has received reports of two-three fatalities in the last five years. According to ODOT, the solar lights cost $33,000 and are part of a $6.3 million surfacing project.