Highway upgrade plan irks Calera businesses - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Highway upgrade plan irks Calera businesses

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ODOT plans to rebuild this stretch of U.S. 69/75 through Calera to reduce congestion and improve safety. (ODOT) ODOT plans to rebuild this stretch of U.S. 69/75 through Calera to reduce congestion and improve safety. (ODOT)
Calera Vice Mayor Brian Norton shows plans for the U.S. 69/75 upgrade. (KTEN) Calera Vice Mayor Brian Norton shows plans for the U.S. 69/75 upgrade. (KTEN)

CALERA, Okla. -- Oklahoma's Department of Transportation is working on a $62 million highway project in Bryan County. But one city is unhappy with the plans.

ODOT wants to improve access and safety on a four-mile stretch of U.S. 69/75 outside Durant and through Calera. The design would eliminate traffic lights on the highway at the intersection with Main Street in Calera. But residents and businesses worry that it will also make it harder for motorists to get to Main Street.

Those concerns are shared by Calera's Fire Chief and Vice Mayor Brian Norton. "Main Street is about where 40 percent of our economy comes from," he said.

ODOT's original proposal included an exit at Main Street, but last October the agency moved those exits further away.

"The lack of ramps through the city limits of Calera, our response time for EMS and law enforcement are going to greatly increase," Norton said.

Another concern is that the plan will decrease tourism and impact local businesses.

"All we're asking ODOT is to add another exit southbound and northbound," said business owner Billy Sprouse. "That will greatly help our businesses and help to keep the town alive."

The transportation agency said they have worked with the public, adding that the plan meets federal standards. ODOT also told KTEN the exits to Calera will be clearly marked, and are positioned to have access to the entire city and its businesses.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-District 2) visited Calera Monday for a closed-door meeting with city leaders and ODOT about the highway upgrade.

"I think most of the people here felt good with the meeting," Norton said.

But Sprouse is less certain of a positive outcome. "It just seems like all the changes we see are necessary just keep getting pushed back, just like it's not going to happen," he said.

ODOT said while they will continue to work with the public and local governments, they don't anticipate making any changes to the U.S. 69/75 project at this time.

Construction is tentatively expected to start next spring.

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