Claremore Daily Progress

July 18, 2013

Hwy. 266 expansion stops short

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation hosted a public meeting Tuesday to receive public comments and answer questions about the four-lane expansion of State Highway 266.
Several members of the property development community voiced their concerns that the project is not inclusive enough to address traffic concerns.
The first phase of the project will include right-of-way work and ODOT officials report that both of the existing lanes will remain open during the construction phase.
The roadway will be expanded in the next four years to include four driving lanes, 12-feet wide each, a center lane of 16-feet and shoulders 10-feet wide on both sides of the road.
Three existing bridge structures, two span bridges and a box structure will be impacted by the construction.
The roadway will only be expanded at this time to include the railroad crossing just east of 145th East Avenue.
Intersection improvements for 129th East Avenue and 145th East  Avenue will be included in the project.
The railroad crossing will also be widened to meet the railroad requirements and ODOT will be working with the railroad on the improvements, Division 8 Director Randall White said.
The project does not include continuous four-lane expansion from State Highway 169 to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.
ODOT is unable to secure funding and environmental clearance to continue the project throughout the area at this time, according to officials.
Approximately, 10,000 vehicles travel the roadway daily.
ODOT officials said that the existing condition of the roadway and traffic safety concerns warranted their attention.
With traffic flow expected to increase to about 16,000 a day by 2035, the department opted to make the project a priority, according to officials.
Public comments at the meeting were limited. 
However, local landowners, developers and Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm voiced their concerns.
The project does not include the future expansion of 177th East Avenue that currently dead ends at the Patriot Golf Course in Stone Canyon.
“177th will soon dead end into the roadway [Hwy. 266],” said Helm.
He is concerned about the traffic flow into Highway 266 and that the current project does not account for expansion at the intersection with 177th East Avenue.
Stone Canyon developers echoed a similar concern, stating that traffic will only increase in the area and the road may not be equipped to handle the traffic.
Other citizens and a Tulsa Police officer spoke about safety concerns and the potential for a “bottleneck” at the end of the expansion prior to reaching the Port of Catoosa.
“We don’t see why the existing stretch is not a priority as well,” one developer said.
“Is there a way to move this project up, not overshadowing the Owasso project?” Helm said. “Is the hang up the environmental?”
The Owasso project Helm spoke of is the expansion of 177th East Avenue through Stone Canyon to connect with Highway 266 and the widening project on 193rd East Avenue.
ODOT’s Randle White said there is nothing in the works right now to move the expansion project beyond the railroad forward in priority.
The second area of the expansion project is delayed for several reasons,  including wetland and other environmental concerns, as well as funding, according to officials.
White was sensitive to their concerns, however kept focus on the improvements that are scheduled at this time.
Public comments will be accepted by ODOT until Aug. 14 and can be sent at the office located at 4002 N. Mingo Valley Expressway in Tulsa, OK 74116.