ODOT: Close Calls Prompt Busy I-44 Ramp Closure

Monday, August 5th 2013, 10:04 pm
By: News 9

State officials say a dangerous situation forced them to close part of a major metro interchange Monday.

With new construction along I-44, many drivers were calling an on-ramp a death trap, until now. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has closed an eastbound ramp in the area Western and Northwest Expressway. The ramp is just north of Bishop McGuiness High School.

"I avoid this area as much as possible," driver Glenn Gardiner said.

The cause of the issue is construction phase two of six along a busy, fast-moving stretch of I-44. There are yield signs in place to warn drivers on the ramp, but there is no room to merge. And, to make matters worse, the curve of I-44 requires drivers to look backwards before moving forward.

"You've got to turn all the way around even to see what's coming from behind," said driver Don Dunkin.

Those who've battled the junction say it's hard to not experience an uneasy feeling.

"It's scary especially during rush hour ," Gardiner said. "Nobody gives too much of a break and traffic is always going way too fast to begin with through a construction zone."

After News 9 called ODOT, we learned, they too, are concerned.

"Frankly, what we saw at the Western on-ramp to I-44 eastbound … we didn't like," said ODOT spokesperson Terri Angier.

Barriers blocking entrance to the ramp were put in place just after 3 p.m. Monday.

"A lot of the close calls on Friday caused [engineers] to make the final decision that they wanted to [close the ramp]," Angier said.

Those close calls affected roughly 93,000 people who drive the stretch of I-44 every day. ODOT says it does not take ramp closures lightly, so it is common for officials to take time monitoring construction areas before affecting the flow of traffic.

The I-44 project is expected to last nine months. ODOT says the ramp should reopen at the end of the current construction phase, in three months.

ODOT sends out daily construction updates via Twitter.

Follow the agency on Twitter.