Big changes coming to the Highway 66/I-44 junction near Town West

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The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority held a meeting with property owners and residents affected by improvements to the Turner Turnpike’s connection to highway 66, Tuesday, September 24th, at the Sign of the Times Event Center.

Joe E. Chelle, Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Craig Moody, Project Manager for Poe & Associates engineering firm, and Chris Mach, Program Manager for right-of-way acquisition firm, Coates Field Service, Inc. gave a presentation to property owners, and local elected officials who were in attendance.

The Project engineer, Craig Moody, gave the details of the project with great clarity and utilized slides to allow the audience to see what the improvements would look like.

Chris Mach, Program Manager for right-of-way acquisition, described the procedures for acquiring right-of-way from property owners.

Left to right, Chris Mach, Acquisitions Project Manager, Joe E. Chelle, OTA Deputy Director, and Craig Moody, Project manager for Poe and Associates engineering firm. Photo by Charles Betzler

The OTA Deputy Director spoke about some of the construction details. The turnpike will have four lanes open during peak times, there will be troopers stationed on-site during the construction to afford travelers a quicker response time to an accident or emergency, there will be a “Courtesy Patrol” truck in the construction area to provide road-side assistance and if needed, tow a vehicle out of the construction area, and there will be a message board displaying speed and emergency messages.

There was a question and answer session after the presentation. The first question was: how did the OTA determine what property to buy? The Deputy Director said that The OTA picked the design that “has the least impact with the most benefit for the traveler.” The second question was what determines the distance between the property and the highway? The person asking the question was concerned about the noise. Chelle told the property owner to look at detailed maps in the back of the room and he would discuss the right-of-way locations.

A significant number of residents were concerned about trucks that park on the shoulder creating noise pollution for the nearby houses. The Deputy Director addressed this issue by saying that the shoulders were for emergencies only, not parking to sleep and that OHP would issue tickets for those violations. He further stated that the OTA is increasing parking at the Stroud Service Plaza, which should eliminate this problem.

After the Q&A session ended, representatives from the OTA and the property acquisition firm, including Amanda Newberry, a design engineer, sat at tables with the residents to address their concerns. The transparency, eagerness to address resident’s concerns, and the warm, friendly demeanor of those representatives was noteworthy.

The project, which includes constructing a standard diamond interchange at 49th West Ave near Town West shopping center, six lanes and lighting from the Creek Turnpike to 49th West Ave., and a ramp going over the Turner Turnpike, with a right- lane entrance, for travelers heading west on highway 66. These improvements will facilitate a faster and safer passage in this area, as well as enhanced aesthetic value. Construction should start in the summer of 2020. The estimated time of completion is two years. Project updates can be found at https://www.drivingforwardok.com/

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Charles Betzler

Long-time Sapulpa resident, Charles Betzler, followed his father, Charlie, into the radio and TV repair business. At age 9, he fixed his first broken radio and his first love is vintage audio equipment. In his 50 + years of technical work, graduation from OSUIT, and years of Continuing Education, Charles, in his capacity as Emergency Management Director of nearby city, designed the Emergency Operations Center, and the radio-activation system for the sirens. In his long career, he has repaired every type of consumer electronics from black-and-white TVs to the latest lap-top.

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