DUNCAN, Okla._Drivers will soon be able to go around the entire city of Duncan, thanks to an extension of the Duncan Bypass by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The bypass currently ends just south of Bois D'Arc Street, causing drivers to go through south Duncan traffic in order to stay on highway 81. After construction ends, drivers will merge back onto highway 81 after passing Duncan city limits.
The total for the construction on the bypass is estimated to cost around $20 million but the city won't be paying for the construction itself. ODOT will pick up the construction tab while the city and federal funds are use to pay for the relocating power lines. On top of that, federal dollars will pay for 80% of the power line relocation fee.
Since the completion of the Duncan Bypass over 13 years ago, it's always been on the minds of engineers that one day that highway would have to be extended. That forethought gave ODOT engineers like Bob Rose a leg up for future plans, "It wasn't part of the initial construction, but we had prepared the basic alignment plans for it."
With the bypass averaging thousands of drivers a day, those plans are starting to take shape and Rose is looking for ways to make the trip faster and easier, "We wish to make the route more easily accessible and to reduce travel time for that traffic that needs to go through Duncan."
For those not familiar with the Duncan area, the current bypass sometimes takes drivers to an unexpected location. As of right now, the Duncan Bypass comes down to the intersection of Highway 81 and Park, where many of those just passing through find themselves in city limits. So engineers want to move those on ramps two miles to Cherokee Road, where city traffic can altogether be avoided.
Rose said that changing the on-ramp isn't the only consideration, power lines and other utilities must also be taken into account, "We're processing the utility agreements that must be approved with the utility owners before the relocation process can start". The tedious process means power lines won't even begin moving until February 2015.
It's a long journey to the final product, but one that Rose thinks will be worthwhile for thousands, "It's good for the community to not be troubled with those six to seven thousand cars per day that would be adding to congestion on the route through the commercial district."
ODOT says the bypass extension could also mean fewer large trucks on the road, leaving city streets in Duncan with less wear and tear. Construction is expected to start in late 2015 with the entire project completed by 2017. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation plans to pay for the project with funds from their 80 year project plan, which is modified, based on need in the area, every year.