Goodyear Blvd.

A truck driver prepares to make a right turn onto Cache Road as he exits the west Lawton industrial park via Goodyear Boulevard. City officials are working with EST Engineering on a plan that would extend Goodyear Boulevard to the north, so it can link to U.S. 62/Rogers Lane and create an industrial bypass.

A proposal to create a bypass for Lawton’s west industrial park will focus on an interchange system that would use ramps to link Goodyear Boulevard to Rogers Lane/U.S. 62.

The proposal is moving to its next design phase after members of the Lawton Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation technical and transportation policy committees agreed to help EST Engineering narrow the focus for a transportation system that will take industrial traffic off Lawton streets by linking Goodyear Boulevard to the existing U.S. 62 bypass onto Rogers Lane on Lawton’s west side. Now, Goodyear Boulevard — the industrial park’s major arterial — dead-ends into old Cache Road.

Oklahoma City design firm EST Engineering, already working on other arterial design projects in Lawton, met with the technical and policy committees last week for help in narrowing what had been six options for the industrial bypass to three, so engineers can continue their analysis and conceptual designs. The decision: options that use ramps/loops to keep traffic moving rather than those that would cause traffic to come to a complete stop before turning onto U.S. 62.

Deputy City Manager Richard Rogalski, who heads the City of Lawton’s Planning Department, said the project is in the “very early” design stage, but EST is ready to move into a phase that will end with more detailed analysis and firmer costs for what will be the winning option. While cost is an important consideration, officials with the City of Lawton and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation say the winning concept also must provide safe traffic movement.

Amanda Newberry, professional engineer with EST, said her staff initially explored six options (that was narrowed to five) to extend Goodyear Boulevard to the north, northeast or northwest, and came up with only one “real problem” that will have to be overcome: flood plain.

Options include two “at grade intersections” which would extend Goodyear Boulevard directly north to U.S. 62. Although the options are the least expensive ($2.6 million and $2.75 million), they were discarded in favor of options that would use interchange systems with ramps and bridges. Committee members said that while the interchange options are the most costly, they also are safer for large and fast-moving traffic.

Committee members (who include several engineers, Rogalski said) agreed EST should focus on two interchange options, but also suggested revisions for each. One option with ramps and bridges would range from $16.8 million to $18.8 million, depending on what is done. A second interchange option, with grade separation that ties directly into the U.S. 62/Rogers Lane overpass, would range from $25 million to $29.284 million, depending on what is done. The cost estimates are for construction; they do not include right of way acquisition or utility relocations.

Funding for whichever option is selected will come from a variety of sources. City officials said while there is funding included in the city’s Capital Improvements Program, through road/arterial and economic development funding categories, but they also plan to seek federal funding. Jay Earp, the ODOT District 7 engineer who serves on the transportation committees, said Lawton historically has obtained federal funds for its arterial work. He said federal funds are available and “this seems to be a high priority for the community.”

Earp was among those who argued for the safety factors associated with interchanges, explaining the least expensive option of taking traffic directly north to link to U.S. 62 is not recommended because of the left turn that would be needed for trucks that must go west, as well as the danger of truck drivers coming unexpectedly upon a traffic signal light so far outside the city limits.

Rogalski said the Lawton Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and industries in the west industrial park “are enthusiastic about this,” explaining those individuals had a chance to comment during a meeting held for stakeholders. Newberry said the design process will include additional public meetings for stakeholders and the general public, adding those comments will be considered before EST moves into the next phase.

This phase, which include conceptual designs, should be done by the end of April, Rogalski said.

The LEDC and other industrial economic development experts have been investigating the idea of an industrial bypass for years, arguing a majority of semi trucks that serve tenants in the west park move north, then east or west. Now, their options are to use existing arterials to get to the industrial park, which puts that heavy traffic on city streets with public traffic while increasing wear and tear, city engineers said.

The City of Lawton already has plans to rehabilitate the existing Goodyear Boulevard between Lee Boulevard to old Cache Road, and Ard Street and Neal Boulevard within the industrial park. EST also has a contract to analyze Lee Boulevard from Goodyear Boulevard on the west to Interstate 44 on the east. That contract also includes Goodyear Boulevard.

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