ODOT, city ready to move on Lynn Lane, BA Expressway improvements
By John Dobberstein, Editor
After several years of studies and discussion, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and city of Broken Arrow are ready to begin the arduous work of untangling the traffic mess at the Lynn Lane Road interchange with the Broken Arrow Expressway (SH-51)
Following a June 2 meeting with the city, ODOT placed the “Broken Arrow Expressway corridor area,” including Elm Place and 9th Street from Kenosha to Albany streets, on the department’s 8-year plan. The plan is updated annually and approved by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission, and being listed on the plan is crucial for municipalities that need funding for major projects.
“It will take time, but it’s a huge win for the city of Broken Arrow,” said Assistant City Manager Kenneth Schwab of ODOT’s listing on the long-term plan.
The latest published plan for 2023-2030 contains 1,800 projects and $8.4 billion in funding for highway and infrastructure improvements.
Traffic backups on the Lynn Lane bridge have been frustrating motorists for years as drivers are heading to commercial areas on Hillside Drive and surrounding arterials, or driving to the high school or getting on the expressway for their morning commute. The bridge congestion has not only been cursed by drivers but the source of many accidents.
Although plans are very preliminary, ODOT believes the best way to ease the dysfunction for southbound motorists on Lynn Lane trying to enter westbound SH-51 is to build a new onramp just to the west of Lynn Lane.
The city has been discussing options with ODOT since 2019 for getting traffic moving in the corridor. The new ramp would allow southbound motorists on Lynn Lane exit to the expressway westbound or keep going south, rather than jockeying for position to turn left across oncoming traffic.
“Right-hand turning movements are always better than left-hand turning movements. There’s much left conflict. This is probably the best solution that’s available to us at this time,” Schwab said.
Additionally, ODOT is considering expanding the Broken Arrow Expressway to 10 total lanes in the Lynn Lane area that would include two protected lanes added in each direction to improve the flow of traffic and keep cars from backing up onto the expressway during busy periods.
ODOT also plans to widen the Lynn Lane bridge over the expressway to 7 lanes.
The next step will likely be the city and ODOT entering into a project agreement and selecting a consultant to do the final corridor study and engineering plan.
The study will examine potential improvements to the Broken Arrow Expressway from east of the Elm Place overpass to the Kenosha Street overpass.
The city already has $13 million in grant money stashed away to do its portion of the work, some of it designated for road improvements in the corridor.
Schwab said the protected lanes being added would be similar to what eastbound motorists see on Interstate 44 as they exit onto the Broken Arrow Expressway, or on the Muskogee Turnpike where the Creek Turnpike comes on.
The auxiliary lanes will extend to the west of Elm Place, and so it picks up between the Albany overpass and the Elm Place overpass, Schwab said. It will continue south of Kenosha.
Once the final study is complete it should give city officials and the state a more firm estimate of the project’s cost