Neal and Ard

The intersection of Ard Street and Neal Boulevard will be rebuilt by T&G Construction, as part of a renovation project that also will mill and overlay the deteriorating surfaces of both roads. The work is one of several infrastructure upgrades planned for Lawton’s west industrial park. City leaders also are investigating a proposal to create an industrial bypass for the area by extending Goodyear Boulevard north to U.S. 62.

A private design firm is proceeding with conceptual designs for a bypass tied to Lawton’s west industrial park.

City Council members concurred with a recommendation from engineers and entities associated with the Lawton Metropolitan Planning Organization that EST Inc.’s best proposal is one that builds a bridge over U.S. 62 while extending Goodyear Boulevard beyond its existing termination point at Cache Road.

The concept, discussed for years by city leaders and west industrial park tenants, would tie Goodyear Boulevard into Rogers Lane/U.S. 62, linking the park’s main access road into a north Lawton bypass already used by numerous trucks. City officials have said the plan would give trucks more direct access to the industrial park while removing heavy vehicles from city arterials.

The proposal is among several infrastructure upgrades planned for the industrial area. The council awarded a $1.3 million contract at Tuesday’s meeting to T&G Construction to repair Neal Boulevard and Ard Street within the industrial park, and has committed to upgrading the existing portion of Goodyear Boulevard.

The Lawton Metropolitan Planning Organization, which allocates Lawton’s federal transportation funds, retained EST in June 2020 to develop conceptual designs for a bypass. EST already is working on other projects for the City of Lawton, to include an analysis for upgrades on Lee Boulevard between the industrial park and Interstate 44 in east Lawton.

The Transportation Technical Committee and Transportation Policy Board decided in November that EST would narrow its analysis from seven concepts to three. It was those three options that EST engineer Amanda Newberry outlined for the transportation groups and for the council to reach agreement on Concept G: a $15.766 million plan that would extend Goodyear Boulevard beyond its termination at Cache Road, taking the road due north before arching to the west to tie into U.S. 62 and, ultimately the U.S. 62/Rogers Lane bypass. The plan includes a bridge that northbound traffic would use to cross the interstate to head west on U.S. 62 while allowing southbound traffic from Rogers Lane/U.S. 62 to get to the industrial park.

Newberry said the other two options analyzed by EST use traffic loops on the northeast side of the “intersection” created by the junction of U.S. 62 and Goodyear Boulevard. That didn’t satisfy engineers because of the danger posed to high speed traffic that must slow down to 25 mph to use those ramp loops, she said.

Newberry said Option G shifts traffic to a bridge, eliminating a dangerous traffic movement. The intersection also would include a stop sign for eastbound traffic that exits U.S. 62 onto Goodyear Boulevard. That traffic would have to yield to vehicles coming south on Goodyear Boulevard from Rogers Lane via the bridge.

Newberry said EST met with stakeholders (industrial park tenants) last week to explain the concepts, and they — like the Transportation Technical and Transportation Policy groups — agreed with the engineer’s recommendation for option G.

That option represents the mid-range cost of the three plans, at $15,765,900. Option A is $15,107 million, while option B (which includes a retaining wall to separate high speed highway traffic from drivers coming from the industrial park) is the priciest, at $19.76 million. Estimated costs include construction of highway and industrial lanes and ramps, as well as associated earthwork, drainage, erosion, traffic, road markings, right of way and utility relocations.

Newberry said there were questions about Option G’s use of a stop sign for southbound traffic coming eastbound from U.S. 62, with some asking about upgrading that option to a signal light. Newberry said that probably won’t be an option because traffic counts don’t warrant it, at least at this time.

Council approval on Tuesday, coupled with sign-offs from everyone else, means the project will move into the next phase, which includes more in-depth engineering design, environmental clearance (Newberry said the only real issue is water related), and hydrologic and hydraulic design of drainage crossings. It also will include “more solid numbers,” she said, of cost estimates.

“G is the best way to go,” said Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren, one of three west Lawton council members, adding the project “has been needed for 25 years.”

Completing conceptual designs doesn’t mean the project is a sure deal.

Lawton still must determine how to pay for the bypass, although city leaders are exploring the idea of federal funding. City officials have said there is economic development funding in Lawton’s Capital Improvements Programs that can be used as a local match to secure federal funding. Jay Earp, the ODOT District 7 engineer who serves on the transportation committees, said Lawton historically has obtained federal funds for its arterials.

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