ODOT urges safety on interstates


Friday, June 27th 2008, 7:02 pm
By: News 9


By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

PURCELL, Okla. -- A pair of deadly crashes on Interstate 35 in McClain County is forcing officials to think twice about the safety of the highway and its construction.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says it's tried everything possible to warn motorists about the stretch of the highway under construction near Purcell.

A Nebraska truck driver was killed in a crash on a Wednesday. Just weeks after another woman lost her life in a similar crash in the same area. It's a pattern that has highway officials concerned.

"We've done everything we can that is at our fingertips for resources and beyond," ODOT spokeswoman Terri Angier said.

Angier says the agency has used everything they can think of, signs, cones, lights, even state troopers, to try and slow motorists down.

"Frankly the number of boards and signs that are out there are three times the average of any project that's required by federal guidelines," Angier said.

The first flashing sign that warns the drivers on I-35 is posted four miles before the construction, but this appears to be the biggest problem. Fast moving vehicles coming over a hill are greeted with a long line of brake lights on the other side.

The result is deadly crashes that ODOT says could be avoided if drivers paid more attention to the warnings.

"Really what it boils down to is the driver to heed our signs," Angier said. "We could put another 20 or 30 signs out there, but if someone isn't looking at them it isn't going to do them any good."

Besides the two fatal crashes this month there have been two other people killed in that area in the past two years.

The construction on that section of I-35 is a resurfacing project. ODOT says it should be finished by September.