Duncan growth spurs changes to US 81 bypass

Duncan_Duncan has grown so fast that the city's bypass needs additional on- and off-ramps.  Currently, drivers who wish to exit on Beech Avenue are unable to. However, the new ramps will change that.  Officials from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) say they never anticipated that Duncan would expand so quickly to the west - but, it has.

ODOT Engineer Jerry Harwell says that increased development clearly leads to an increase in traffic.  "When we first opened it [the bypass] up in 2001, we had around 7,000 cars a day, and I think it's increased since then."  Since the only on- and off-ramps the bypass currently offers are on US Highway 81, ODOT is adding four additional off-ramps at Beech Road.

Although Harwell says the mileage works out to be roughly the same, lack of off-ramps can confuse travelers not familiar with Duncan.  Currently, drivers on the bypass who want to travel west to The Territory Golf Club, or east to the Simmons Center, must exit on Elk or Bois D'Arc and loop back around onto side roads.   The Territory's Golf Director Tim Johnson says it's not easy to give directions to the course, especially for those attending national events in town.  "The directions become a little complicated coming off the bypass.  Overall, it will definitely be a great asset."

Although there is currently no construction date set, they say they hope to begin no later than October, 2008.  Harwell says the project should be complete within 230 days after construction begins.  But, he says it could take longer depending on weather conditions.  In order to build the four ramps, workers will move nearly 100,000 cubic yards of soil, and the project will cost nearly $3 million to complete.

Count on 7News to keep you updated on the bypass progress.