The opening of the new I-40 East bound exits last January was a breeze! In fact, I was enjoying going back and forth between the Shields and Western exits. I explored streets that I didn’t realize existed. Two weeks into the new routine I was even making fun of the people who didn’t know how it worked. Yes. Karma came knocking on my door.
The West bound exits were opened on Sunday, February 19. I happened to be off work that week so yes, I completely forgot. I had a 6pm appointment in the Village so I left work right at 5pm, which is different for me as I work until 5:30pm. I started towards my comfortable entrance into I-40 and realized, ‘oh yes, we have a new system now don’t we?’ I immediately found Western and OH MY GOODNESS!! It was backed up with cars like we were in Houston or something. It was a massive 5pm rush hour backup. Of course my sister in Houston would have said, ‘you think that’s a traffic jam?”
I think I’m extremely downtown savvy so I thought I would just get to Penn. Yes Penn! Not remembering that my public relations colleague Terri Angiers with ODOT distinctly said on a television interview, ‘remember – Western & Shields only.’ I found what I thought was a Penn to I-40 West bound exit but instead it took me back to Reno. RENO?? Then there I am, at Reno and May, stuck in traffic again, checking in on Facebook at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds with a post “I can’t get out of downtown!” Finally I hit I-44 from NW 10th. Never touching I-40. I never felt so stupid.
I did make my appointment in time. It was only for a few minutes I was out of sorts but it seemed like an hour.
Day 2 of the WTH w/ WB I-40 adventure: I leave work at 5:30pm, hoping to miss the rush hour. I get to Western and get right to the I-40 on ramp. Hooray! But then there were three ‘this lane ends, exit only’ type exits to get me to I-44. Everyone seemed off kilter too and worse, there was a speeder who nearly back-ended someone. They weren’t letting me over either. It was nerve racking but I found my beloved I-44 exit heading north and nothing had changed with that! Homeward on!
The really good news its all temporary because it has a lot to do with the new boulevard going in. It’s going to be great. I had no problem saying good by to the old I-40 Crosstown. It was time. So I remain off kilter on my routine but that’s not so bad having a change in a daily routine. Soon I’ll have my third, fourth and fifth attempts and will get it down. It’s kind of cool too. We’re all apart of history. We were the first commuters to navigate. Maybe, just maybe this blog post would be put into the Oklahoma history archives!!
By Leslie A. Spears, new I-40 Crosstown adventurer!