Cherokee Nation, ODOT improve Washington County highway
TULSA – According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the CN and Oklahoma Department of Transportation are partnering to make safety improvements to an intersection on U.S. Highway 75 in Ochelata.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker and CN Department of Transportation Director Michael Lynn gave $411,000 to ODOT Executive Director Michael Patterson and Division Engineer Randle White on Jan. 30 in Tulsa to help with the $678,000 project.
Between 2012-17, 37 collisions occurred at the US-75-W2900 Road intersection, including five that resulted in fatalities. The intersection improvement plan calls for the construction of “J-turns” in the corridor and a southbound deceleration lane on the highway to reduce the number of traffic conflict points and help improve safety.
“This intersection in Ochelata is an important route that provides direct access to Cherokee Nation’s Cooweescoowee Health Center, where tens of thousands of patients are seen each year,” Baker said. “Cherokee Nation is proud to work with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to help prevent collisions and make this route safer for years to come. This is a great example of the strengths of a partnership between the Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma.”
The CN received the $411,000 through Tribal Transportation Safety Funds, which are set aside by the federal government annually to address transportation safety issues in Indian Country.
“We greatly appreciate the continued support of the Cherokee Nation to partner with us and improve the safety of Oklahoma’s highways,” Patterson said. “The J-turns will eliminate the need for traffic to cross multiple highway lanes to make a left turn, and instead give drivers a more protected area to turn.”
Completion of the project is expected in early summer 2019, according to the release.
“Working with ODOT to pool our resources is a great way to improve the lives of Cherokees and all residents in and around Ochelata,” Lynn said. “We appreciate ODOT for working out the logistics and for providing additional funding resources for such an important project.”
Aside from providing access to the Cooweescoowee Health Center, US-75 services area-wide commerce traffic and will also be a direct route for visitors to the Washington County Cherokee Association’s new community building, which is expected to be constructed this year near the health facility, the release states.