Signals to alleviate traffic woes until construction at I-35 and Waterloo Rd.
Red, yellow and green are about to become the three favorite colors of those who regularly travel Waterloo Rd. to access I-35.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation plans to install temporary traffic signals on Waterloo Rd. at the I-35 interchange just north of Edmond. This safety measure is expected to improve traffic flow at the I-35 interchange, easing the long lines and delay that exists today during rush hour. The traffic signals will become permanent in 2021 when reconstruction begins, bringing a new type of interchange design to Oklahoma.
The two temporary traffic signals have been added to the interchange design contract with Garver Engineering and installation is scheduled for this winter. The department will pay an estimated $250,000 in state funding for these interim improvements, which will remain in place until the completion of the interchange construction project, which is scheduled to begin in 2021. These improvements were made possible due to the partnership with Oklahoma and Logan counties, which have committed to share in the maintenance costs for the signal lights.
“Residents’ concerns were heard loud and clear during our January public meeting. Through the support of area county commissioners, traffic woes can be addressed much sooner,” said Division 4 Engineer Brian Taylor. “The department believes these temporary measures will bring much-needed relief and added safety to users of this interchange.”
The interim project design also calls for extending the right turn lane from eastbound Waterloo Rd. to southbound I-35 and adding new pavement striping on the southbound I-35 on-ramp from Waterloo Rd. to help move traffic faster.
This area continues to see tremendous business and residential growth. The 2014 average traffic count shows 11,500 vehicles traversing this section of Waterloo Rd. daily, but by 2040 traffic is estimated to triple to more than 33,000 vehicles a day.
The traffic signals won’t be the only new item headed to the interchange. The department was pleased to receive a record-number of public comments and input about the future of the interchange. ODOT engineers have chosen a diverging diamond as the future interchange design. While new to Oklahoma, this configuration is now in use by 26 states.
“The diverging diamond design is uniquely well-suited for this location making the high volume of left turns at the intersection safer to accomplish,” Taylor said.
The basic design is that of two divided, one-way roads through the interchange and includes traffic signals to aid turning movements. Left turns, in particular, are safer because vehicles do not have to cross in front of oncoming traffic to make the turn. Traffic signals help move motorists back to their normal lane configuration at the end of the diverging diamond interchange.
Replacing the I-35 bridges over Waterloo Rd. is another component of the estimated $32 million construction project, allowing greater clearance for trucks and adding traffic capacity for a future widening of I-35 to six lanes. Waterloo Rd. also will be widened to four lanes plus a turn lane at the interchange to accommodate increased traffic.