Calera gets Main Street exit in highway makeover - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Calera gets Main Street exit in highway makeover

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An artist's conception of the proposed US 69/75 interchange at Main Street in Calera. (ODOT) An artist's conception of the proposed US 69/75 interchange at Main Street in Calera. (ODOT)

CALERA, Okla. -- For the past 18 months, we've been updating you about the major highway project on US 69/75 south of the Choctaw Casino in Durant.

The original plans for the "Fastlane" limited-access makeover did not include an exit at Main Street in Calera. City officials and local merchants were concerned about the impact that might have on the local economy.

"They were being tone deaf to a city that maybe they didn't get the passion people had for their town," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-District 2). "We had to get their attention."

After a series of public meetings and closed-door discussions, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has altered its master plan and the remodeled highway will now feature a Main Street exit.

"I am just really glad the citizens have pushed us to fight for what they wanted, and we were able to do that and voice their opinion to our representatives," said Mayor Brenton Rucker.

Instead of an X-shaped exit, engineers will design a more conventional intersection that will place the exits closer to Main Street.

"This is all part of the process," said ODOT Chief Engineer Brian Taylor. "Ultimately, the City of Calera is getting a conventional diamond interchange, and that is what driver expectancy gives you."

Major players in making the Main Street exit a reality include the Choctaw Nation and Rep. Mullin.

"You can go example after example, and I know it wasn't bypassing the town, but when there is no exit, it kills it," Mullin said.

"It's going to be easier on-and off-ramps, and it's going to allow our town to grow," Mayor Rucker added.

Bottom line: Local property owner Michelle Beaty says the system works.

"We have politics at work, and we had a voice, and our elected officials heard us."

Work on the highway upgrade is now expected to start by this winter. It will take about three years to complete.

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