Plans to keep people from crossing I-44 moving forward

Plans to keep people from crossing I-44 moving forward

LAWTON, Okla._A plan to try and keep people from risking their lives by walking across I-44 south of Gore Boulevard moved forward Tuesday night at Lawton City Hall. Councilman Keith Jackson put the topic back on the council's agenda following the death of a man who was hit by a pickup on the turnpike Thanksgiving night. Jackson pointed out that this area of I-44 is the only stretch throughout the state without a fence to keep people out.

The proposal drew plenty of debate, including comments from Councilman Jay Burk who pushed for a separate walkway, saying a fence wouldn't stop people from climbing it and trying to cross the highway.

"It's the same thing that fires me up because the rest of the city can get out we just can't," said Burk. "Our deal is we have a lot of people that like to bike up and down Gore Boulevard, and it's dangerous."

The council ultimately voted on a motion that would allow the city manager to approach the state Department of Transportation about the project, since they would be doing the work. The motion to put up a chain link fence on both sides of the interstate passed on a 5-3 vote, with Burk, Rosemary Bellino-Hall, and Doug Wells casting the dissenting votes.

The council also directed city staff to apply for an ODOT enhancement grant to get funds to build a sidewalk on the bridge on Gore Boulevard in hopes the pedestrians will use it to get across the highway. The project's estimated cost is $900,000, with the state grant covering $600,000 of it. ODOT is encouraging the city to get the surrounding businesses to help cover what is left of the cost of that sidewalk expansion.