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I-44 toll plaza opens Tuesday

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will officially open its new H.E. Bailey toll plaza south of Chickasha on Tuesday.

The toll plaza, at mile marker 66, or 12 miles south of the long-existing plaza near Chickasha, has been under construction for more than a year as part of a project to modernize the state's toll road system.

Turnpike officials said the southbound lanes in the new plaza will open about 11 p.m Tuesday, followed by the opening of the northbound lanes about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Motorists should expect delays in and around the old plaza location, which will be removed when the new plaza becomes operational.

The project was launched in summer 2016, when the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority awarded Duit Construction a $14.764 million project to build a modern, high-speed toll plaza south of the existing plaza, then demolish the old structure when the new plaza was operational. The work was part of an overall project that also rebuilt 7.5 miles of road on the northern end of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike, just south of Oklahoma City.

Jack Damrill, director of communications for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, said the design of the new plaza puts PikePass lanes in the center of the plaza and the cash lanes on the outside. While the existing plaza  PikePass lanes on the outside, cash lanes in the center  forces traffic to mingle, slowing down all traffic, the new configuration moves cash customers to the outside lanes while allowing PikePass users to stay in the center lanes, meaning that traffic should be able to pass through the toll plaza and its readers without slowing down.

The Lawton Constitution

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