Oklahoma has been awarded a $62 million FASTLANE grant for updates to the US 69/75 corridor near Durant for work on a four-mile stretch of the highway to include conversion to controlled-access, grade separations, frontage roads and rail crossing improvements.
“Without this grant there was no funding solution for this project,” says Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) Executive Director Mike Patterson. “This grant is the answer to a long standing need that previously lacked the necessary funds. Construction of these grade separations between Durant and Calera will greatly improve traffic safety and efficiency of freight traffic along this entire corridor, which connects many Oklahoma and regional industries to the nation.”
ODOT says US 69/75 is a heavily trafficked corridor for freight between Dallas, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri, and the updates will improve the flow of goods. The improvements also are aimed at reducing crashes at intersections in this stretch of highway. The agency reports 63 percent of collisions in that area between 2010 and 2014 happened at intersections, with 19 percent involving a commercial vehicle.
The department reports it will now get to work completing the environmental review, engineering, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation by fiscal year 2018, with construction “tentatively set” to start in fiscal year 2019. Prior to the grant announcement, ODOT says it was looking at fiscal year 2023 to start the right-of-way and utility portions of the project, so the funding has accelerated the work by roughly five years.
The FASTLANE (Fostering Advancement in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies) program was made possible by a provision in the FAST Act called the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program. This is designed to fund both small and large projects based on size and meeting certain requirements, and is authorized for $4.5 billion through 2020.