Traffic jams up with road projects

These days many Pauls Valley motorists can be left shaking their head from all the vehicles and traffic jams that seem to be popping up in some parts of town.

It's happening at places like Indian Meridian Road, where way more traffic than normal has begun lining up with so many vehicles looking to avoid construction areas on Interstate 35.

What most of those motorists are finding out is other projects are making it difficult if not impossible to find a good alternative route.

With more projects coming soon along the I-35 corridor it may only get worse in the coming months.

“We're getting a lot of that overflow traffic coming over to Indian Meridian,” PV Police Chief Mitch McGill says. “Sometimes it's bumper to bumper, and we're starting to get numerous complaints about it.

“Drivers are thinking they can get around it,” he said, referring specifically to an ongoing I-35 bridge project over state Highway 19, which is PV's main entrance and exit at mile marker 72.

Just a couple miles south McGill said a lot of those motorists are getting off at Airline Road and continuing northbound on Indian Meridian, where much of the traffic congestion is happening.

“Eventually it's taking them right into another traffic problem. The construction puts them off the interstate and then running them into more construction projects.

“With GPS it lead them into more problems, especially for the big trucks. Sometimes they'll use their GPS and wind up in town stuck on a small road because they're too big to make the turn.”

One of those other projects is a U.S. Highway 77 bridge project over the Washita River just north of Pauls Valley.

Many motorists looking to avoid traffic from one bridge project wind up running into another one across town.

McGill says there's not much his department can do to help ease the traffic headaches because all the projects are scheduled by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

“There's usually not much that we can do because these projects are ODOT,” he said.

“All we can do is try to keep traffic flowing the best we can. If traffic stops flowing and it gets to be gridlock we'll get out there and direct traffic.

“When they start the Wayne project it will only get worse. There's really nothing we can do.”

The chief is referring to an I-35 road project expected to start next week. Once started it will stretch from state Highway 59 (mile marker 86) to mile marker 84 near Wayne in neighboring McClain County.

The project, scheduled to be completed in early 2022, will narrow I-35 traffic to one lane in both directions.

The $12 million project was awarded to IHS Scott, Inc., of Englewood, Colo.

The same company is also overseeing a $20 million project now underway to construct three miles of I-35 pavement between SH 19 and the Washita River bridge.

Traffic will also be narrowed to one lane in both directions from mile markers 70 to 76 as this project is expected to go into early 2022.

All the lanes will reopen for one weekend only, Oct. 8-10, which is likely due to the heavy traffic flow to and from Dallas, Texas because of the Oklahoma-Texas football game.

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