Friday, March 6, 2015

ODOT Delays U.S. Highway 59 Project

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) on Friday confirmed that the bid for the redesign of U.S. Highway 59, from U.S Highway 64 in Sallisaw north to State Highway 101, has been delayed. The original plan was to ask for bids on the project in June 2016, but that has been delayed to 2017. Cody Boyd, ODOT spokesman, said Friday concerns about rights-of-way acquisition and utility relocations were causing design changes, and causing the bid process to likely not start until 2017. Boyd said, "The construction project is currently scheduled in ODOT's Eight-year Construction Work Plan to go to bid in June 2016 after right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation was completed. However, due to further evaluation of the right-of-way and utility relocations and design changes, it is now likely that the construction project will go to bid in 2017 instead. In a typical project like this, the right-of-way process would take about two years to complete." Boys said ODOT is working with landowners and their concerns about rights-of-way. He did not have the highway redesign immediately available.

Sallisaw City Manager Bill Baker said Friday he was not aware of the delay, but said the delay will benefit Sallisaw. Baker said, "This will give us more time to identify the funding for the project." Baker explained that the city is responsible for moving the utilities. While the city will be reimbursed for the $2 million required to relocate the water and sewer systems, it will not be reimbursed for the $700,000 needed to relocate power and telecommunication lines which was a concern for the city. Baker said the hiring of an engineer to review the relocation is on the city's agenda Monday evening, at the city's regular commission meeting. "We will recommend they go ahead with hiring an engineer so we'll know what the cost estimate will be for the construction. The delay will help identify the money for that," Baker said. 

Also on Monday's agenda is the hiring of a new city manager, Clayton E. Lucas II, at a salary of $100,000 a year. City commissioners have been seeking a new city manager since Baker handed in his resignation last year. Baker's last day as the city's manager is April 1, a post he has held for 11 years. 

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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