Claremore Daily Progress

August 7, 2013

Claremore investing in Hwy. 20 realignment

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Claremore City Council approved $273,900 in budgeted funding Monday to contract engineering services with TranSystems as the initial stage in the $30 million realignment of Hwy. 20 into Claremore.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s previous plans to realign the highway to the south of the city, using King Road to access State Highway 66 prompted city manager Jim Thomas to make the realignment via Country Club a priority.
Thomas is pushing the project forward, dedicating funding and setting total roadway completion as early as the fall of 2018.
The engineering is the first step and required to “make the realignment reality,” Thomas told the council.
“For the public, in general, this is a big step for the City of Claremore,” Thomas said. “Over several months, we have met with ODOT professionals and we have shown them that we can tie into Highway 66 and have no impact on business.”
The project will impact 3.39 miles of roadway and 1.74 miles of the railroad, including a grade separation between Archer Street and King Road, according to Thomas.
The city is “putting skin in the game,” Thomas said.
By preparing and funding the environmental study, city officials are providing a commitment to the project that is necessary to secure federal funding, according to Thomas.
ODOT has agreed to help facilitate the study, which is monumental, he added.
City officials will meet with ODOT Division 8 Director Randall White later this month to discuss securing the right-of-way necessary for project completion.
The realignment is “a game changer” and will open up a lot of development inside the city, according to Thomas.
Transystems will prepare the engineering to meet ODOT requirements while working with city officials to insure the project will qualify for federal money.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin and Sen. Jim Inhofe are assisting the city in efforts to secure federal funding, according to Thomas.
Public hearings will be a part of the process as the city works to obtain right of way, he added. “We can not emphasize enough, we are moving forward,” Thomas said. 
Councilor Buddy Roberston questioned ODOT’s support for the project, but Thomas quickly assured the members the city has the full support of the agency.
“ODOT does not want to tell Claremore where to build it. They are committed to putting the roadway where the city wants it,” said Brett Letkowski, Transystems senior vice president.