LAWTON, Okla._I-44 construction is fully underway in Lawton and now street closings, detours and other construction sites have put drivers in a pinch.
With the I-44 southbound ramps from Cache Road closed for at least the next eight months, an alternate route has been set up within the city for drivers. The detour makes its way down construction-ridden Second Street and residents and businesses alike are saying it's all too much for the area.
Despite the I-44 detour coming through Ferris Avenue and Second Street to connect with Gore Boulevard, traffic is still reduced to just two lanes in order for construction with the Second Street development to continue. For many businesses, they said they're just happy Second Street is open at all, but for others, this is a giant mess that's severely affecting business.
"It makes it more congested, that's what it does," said business owner Curtis Daffern in regards to the increase in traffic congestion. Daffern has owned his own auto services shop on Second Street for 10 years and through that decade, he's seen his fair share of construction, "It slowed us way down because people didn't know if we were still open or not...we had to put a sign out that said we're still open because it just looks like everything is closed down here now."
With no relief in sight, other businesses like Hoffman's Grill say they're looking to relocate sooner than later. But businesses aren't the only ones who are being inconvenienced by all the building; slow routes are causing many to cut through Elmer Thomas Park and it has park patrons fuming.
Individuals on Facebook claim they've seen people fly through the park and that they have no care for pedestrians. One lady in particular wrote that someone passed her in the park going over 35 miles per hour! It's a problem the city says they are working on, but as for local businesses that call Second Street home, they'll continue to wait out the construction woes, "It's going to help our business in the long run I believe. It's just been a headache getting to where we're at."
I-44 southbound ramps to and from Cache Road are expected to be closed until at least October of this year. As a result, the city of Lawton is amping up police patrol around Elmer Thomas Park to make sure everyone on the grounds is going the speed limit of 15 miles per hour.
The city of Lawton stresses that Elmer Thomas Park is not considered part of any type of alternate route from I-44. They recommend people avoid the area while traveling along the Second Street detour.