Work continues on US 60

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Work continues on US 60

Improvements currently being made on U.S. Highway 60 between Pawhuska and Bartlesville are not expected to be completed for two more years.

By then, work should have started on the five-mile section which will conclude what is possibly the most massive single road project in Oklahoma history.

State highway officials estimate that three million cubic yards of dirt is going to be moved during the five-mile realignment effort that started a year ago just to the west of Osage Hills State Park. The $37 million project will level and straighten the dangerous two-lane stretch, in addition to adding much-needed shoulders.

Replacement of three 80-year-old bridges — which transportation recently called “some of the worst bridges we have in the state” — is also being accomplished.

Osage Hills State Park Ranger Nick Conner said the road builders have kept the park facilities accessible despite all of the work going on around it.

“Any short-term problems it may cause are nothing compared to the long-term benefits of making it safer to visit the park,” said the OHSP official.

Conner said the new realignment will put the park entrance at a 90-degree angle with the highway — retaining the familiar natural-stone construction while eliminating the Y-shaped approach that had been in place for decades.

“We’ve had a couple of wrecks and several other close calls,” said Conner. “This should make it a much safer entrance.”

Highway 60 east of Bartlesville will also be receiving attention — approximately $73 million worth — under the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Eight-Year Construction Plan that runs through 2019, said ODOT Director Mike Patterson.

Later this year, bids will be taken on the first of two projects aimed at the hazardous curves between Bartlesville and Nowata, the official added.

The state’s “robust construction program” has repaired or replaced of hundreds of its 6,800 bridges, according to Patterson. A few years ago, there were 1,168 state bridges designated as structurally-deficient. At the end of 2014, that number had been reduced to 390, he said.

“The highway system we’re building today will serve us — and our children and grandchildren — long into the future,” he added.