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!
As many Oklahomans discovered today, black ice is dangerous. It can turn what normally would be a smooth ride into a treacherous journey. And the temperature doesn’t even have to be at freezing or below for it to happen.
It’s one thing to see a shiny roadway and know there’s a good possibility of ice. It’s another to see what appears to be a normal, or possibly wet road and not realize that is has black ice until you’re upon it.
Simply put, black ice is a thin layer of ice that forms on roadways and is basically invisible because it takes on the color of the underlying pavement, which is usually black on an asphalt surface. It can form from freezing drizzle, wind-blown snow or freezing condensation. The ice can form even when the temperature is a few degrees above freezing.
So how do you know it’s there? If the roadway appears darker, duller in color, it’s very likely there is black ice present. The obvious sign, of course, is when your tires lose their grip and you slide. You don’t have to be speeding to lose control.
There are some things you can/should do to reduce the possibility of having a problem on black ice:
* First, make sure your seat belt is fastened.
* Drive with your headlights on low beam, even if it’s daytime. This makes your vehicle more visible to those around you.
* Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and those ahead of you.
* Keep your speed down.
* If you come upon a slick spot, take your foot off the gas and don’t slam the brakes. Tap them lightly.
* If you begin to slide, turn the steering wheel the direction you are sliding.
Driving experts also point to these reminders:
* Don’t think you are invincible just because you drive something like a pickup or sport utility vehicle.
*A 4-wheel drive vehicle is great for driving in heavy snow, but you’re on your own on black ice. In fact, the experts say, 4-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over regular cars when it comes to driving on black ice.
* Make sure your tires have good tread. Worn tires make it much more difficult to drive on black ice. You want plenty of traction between your tires and the road surface.
* Black ice is most commonly found on roads near water (such as lake and rivers), in tunnels and in shady, or rural areas. Bridges and overpasses are also common spots for black ice to form. You probably have seen a sign “Bridge ices before roadway.” That’s because roadways on bridges and overpasses freeze more quickly. Even if you have been cruising down the highway with no problem, an overpass or bridge can be unexpectedly icy.
* And remember that if you have an idea that there may be black ice ahead, downshift to a lower gear before you come to it. The lower gear will force you to drive more slowly and give you better control of your car.
For more information about driving in winter or weather conditions, go to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/SEVERE-WEATHER-OKLAHOMA and check out the resources.
If you’re going to be out on State Highway 66 on Friday, you might better pay attention. And that’s not just around the Oklahoma City metro area.
Here’s the word from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol:
“Get Your ‘Clicks’ on Route 66” crackdown continues
Eight states to take part in seat belt crackdown Feb. 3
This Friday, law enforcement agencies across eight states will be taking part in an unprecedented “Get Your ‘Clicks’ on Route 66” seat belt crackdown, enforcing seat belt and child passenger safety laws. The quarterly crackdown runs for 24 hours on Friday, Feb. 3.
Highway patrol troopers and state police officers from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois have joined with Oklahoma in enforcing seat belt laws along the famed “Mother Road,” said OHP Lt. Ben Crockett, coordinator for the program.
The Route 66 enforcement effort began in 2010 with a handful of law enforcement agencies in central Oklahoma. The 24-hour mobilizations take place once each quarter along Route 66 and routinely involve multi-state and multi-agency cooperation.
“Fastening your seat belt and making sure your kids are properly buckled up is such an easy thing to do, and it’s the best way to protect yourself in the event of a crash,” Crockett said. “It’s great to have the other states along Route 66 joining us in this important effort to save lives.”
Historic Route 66 runs from Chicago, Ill., to Los Angeles, Calif.
In Oklahoma in 2010, 55.7 percent (267 of 479) of all fatalities in passenger vehicles/pickup truck crashes were people not wearing seat belts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 13,000 lives are saved across the country every year by seat belts and child restraints, and motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in rollover crashes if they are buckled up.
“We want everyone to buckle up – every trip, every time,” Crockett said. “Whether you’re driving in a city or in an urban area, using your seat belt is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe. And during the Route 66 crackdown, we’ll be reminding people that using a seat belt is not only a smart decision, it’s the law.”
For more information about traveling in Oklahoma, go to …
See Don Gammill’s Traffic Talk column each Monday in The Oklahoman, on NewsOK and in …
Remember the scene from “The Jerk,” when Steve Martin’s character, Navin R. Johnson, gets a real thrill, while his boss, Harry Hartounian (Jackie Mason) plays down the situation?
Navin: “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!”
Harry: “Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.”
Navin: “Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 — Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity — your name in print — that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.”
And they do, including him becoming a target.
If your name is published, listed, signed, printed, possibly even spoken, you, too, can become a target. Perhaps not the same as Navin (you’ll have to watch the movie to find out), but a target just the same.
You can be a target for any campaign (advertising, politcal, or otherwise), survey (pick a topic), recruitment, request … just about anything you can imagine that needs/wants support.
And that generally means financial.
In the past week alone, I’ve been “invited” to join or learn more about …
* A tea party. Yep, that one.
* Two political parties. Someone didn’t check the rolls.
* A “new, wonderful opportunity to build a better” me. If I would send money, I would find out how.
* An insurance company that said it could guarantee it can beat anyone else’s rates. Interesting, because that same company had the second highest rates of any I checked when I was comparing them months ago.
* A company that said if I would send $5, I would receive a list of freebies. If I have to pay for the list, then nothing is really free, right?
* A chance to help throw out an elected office-holder “who is wrecking our American system.” All I have to do is send money, which, I figure, might wreck my system of paying the bills.
* At least three “Who’s Who” groups, each congratulating me on my selection for inclusion in their elite organizations. They “invited” me to see my entry. All I had to do was pay a whopping fee for their books that listed me.
* A friendly notice that my account was being frozen due to an improper usage. If I would contact them, they would help rectify the situation. How about NO usage? I don’t have such an account.
Each of these was by mail or by email. There have been others by phone, which is another sore spot. I was among those signing up for a no-call list some time ago. It worked for about a month.
Caller ID catches many of the irritating nuisance calls we get these days, but we warn our friends and family that if we get a NUMBER UNAVAILABLE, an UNAVAILABLE, or some other nondescript message, we will not answer.
Bottom line is, we pick our “targets” too. Like you, we pick and choose where the money goes.
Learn more about how to manage money and solicitors at the following locations:
It won’t be long now. Just hours, in fact, until you can drive on a portion of the new and improved Crosstown Expressway in Oklahoma City.
Eastbound lanes of the new Interstate 40 will open Thursday, running from the I-44 junction to downtown, about five blocks south of its old — and crumbling — predecessor.
If all goes as planned, the westbound lanes will open in another month to month and a half. It won’t be a complete opening, however. The work continues on the 10-lane freeway. A couple of lanes will be closed near Robinson Avenue until construction on the Skydance Bridge is finished next spring.
But, meanwhile, we can enjoy the lanes that are open. Be prepared. It really is much improved over what you’ve been driving on the past many years.
The new road, and the sites connected to it — such as the $5.2 million Skydance Bridge — will be impressive.
The new Crosstown runs about five blocks south of the existing freeway, from the I-44 junction to that with I-35 and I-235. Cost of the new roadway is said to be $670 million, making it the most expensive road construction project in the history of Oklahoma. Most of that, of course, is paid for with federal money.
Construction began in 2005 and is ahead of schedule, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. That is due to the construction being split into several sections, allowing crews to work on them simultaneously; good weather; and a lack of unforeseen delays.
Once the new Crosstown is complete, work can begin on the “deconstruction” of the old road. The roadway has needed constant repairs for the past several years, with holes appearing in the pavement and other problems. Soon, it will be gone altogether.
The old freeway eventually will be replaced by a boulevard, a part of MAPS 3. There also will be an urban park as part of the city’s Core to Shore plan.
Better roadway, better scenery, better opportunities for everyone.
I learned long ago that civic group meetings can be a great place to find out what’s going on in your community, your state and your nation.
The speakers these clubs bring in are among the most informed, best resources available.
Highways and roadways always are hot topics in our state and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has a fine group of ndividuals who can clear up misconceptions, provide the big picture on our highways, as well as give updates on key issues.
So, without hesitation, I’m happy to forward this list to any and all clubs looking for speakers who know their topics.
But don’t hesitate. They have busy work schedules and the opportunity to secure one of them may fade fast, depending upon requests.
To schedule them, contact the nearest ODOT office:
* Darren Saliba, (918) 687-5407 (email@example.com) — Adair, Cherokee, haskell, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties.
* Paula Branam, (580) 298-3371 (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, Latimer, Le Flore, Marshall, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pushmataha counties.
* Kathy Gwinn, (580) 332-1526 (email@example.com) — Cleveland, Coal, Garbin, Hughes, Johnston, Lincoln, McClain, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Okfuskee and Seminole counties.
* Danielle Trent, (580) 336-7340 (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Canadian, Garfield, Grant, kay, Kingfisher, Logan, Noble, Oklahoma and Payne counties.
* Brent Almquist, (580) 445-1002 (email@example.com) — Beckham, Blaine, Custer, Dewey, Greer, harmon, Jackson, Kowa, Roger Mills, Tillman and Washita counties.
* Joyce Lake, (580) 735-2561 (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties.
* Lois Clark, (580) 255-7586 (email@example.com) — Caddo, Carter, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Jefferson, Love, Murray and Stephens counties.
* Terry Thompson, (918) 838-9933 (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Craig, Creek, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, ottawa, Payne, Rogers, Tulsa and Washington counties.
Some parts of Oklahoma got an early dose of winter weather this week, complete with snow.
Crews from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation responded to handle conditions on roadways in northern and northwestern parts of the state.
ODOT officials said crews needed sand and salt in some areas after the weather hit, including plowing areas where snow had accumulated.
That should serve as a reminder to drivers throughout Oklahoma that more winter weather conditions are ahead. A little preparation can go a long way.
Whether it be adjusting your speed for slick spots, especially on bridges and overpasses; making sure your vehicle is winterized; having the proper necessities inside, should you become stranded; or knowing your route, you can be safer.
The experts say:
* Drive for the conditions and plan for extra travel time.
* Take extra care when traveling through work zones during this time.
* Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
* Stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
* Be aware of “black ice,” which looks wet on the roadway, but is actually a thin layer of ice.
To check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS, call the Department of Public Safety’s ROAD CONDITIONS HOTLINE at 888-425-2385.
For more winter driving tips, recommendations on preparations and more, check out the resources on http://knowit.newsok.com/severe weather and learn how to survive.
If you’re going to be on the road during the Thanksgiving holiday, do your part in making it a safe journey.
My friends in law enforcement and public safety remind everyone that Oklahoma roadways will be filled with travelers this week, before, on and after Thanksgiving. They urge extra precautions to keep drivers and passengers safe.
And remember, Thanksgiving starts the holiday season, when you’ll see more people traveling and more people visiting shopping centers and malls, as well as places to eat.
Any of those can lead to increased stress for the driver.
Officials in the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office advise taking a little time to make smart choices about your travel. Alice Collinsworth, OHSO communications manager.
Last year in Oklahoma, the Thanksgiving holiday period ran from 6 p.m. Wed., Nov. 24, to midnight Sunday, Nov. 28. During this time period, 546 crashes were reported. Six people were killed and 327 others were injured, said Alice Collinsworth, OHSO communications manager. Four of the six fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes, she said.
“Law enforcement officers across the state will be out in force during the holiday,” Collinsworth said. “They’ll be watching for drivers who are impaired, who are breaking the speed limit, or who are distracted, and they also will be enforcing seat belt laws. The goal is to save lives and to make sure everyone arrives safely at their holiday destination.”
OHSO also recommends taking these steps for safe travel:
* Make sure all children in your vehicle are placed in age-appropriate car seats and all adults are buckled up.
* If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement, or dial *55 from any cell phone to alert the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
* Plan ahead for inclement weather and make sure your vehicle has appropriate emergency equipment.
* Avoid distractions while driving, such as cell phones and electronic equipment.
* If alcohol is part of your Thanksgiving celebration, plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver.
AAA Oklahoma once again is offering Tipsy Tow services over Thanksgiving to motorists who have partied a bit too much and feel unsafe behind the wheel. The auto club will give the driver and one more person — plus the vehicle -– a free ride home.
AAA’s Tipsy Tow program, free to members and nonmembers alike, will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, and will run until 2 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28, in metropolitan Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as well as in Lawton, Shawnee, Enid, Muskogee and Bartlesville.
“Many motorists may think they are okay to drive but research shows that impairment starts with the first drink,” said Chuck Mai, AAA Oklahoma spokesman. “And remember, the first thing to go when you drink is judgment. After drinking, we tend to make less-than-smart decisions -– like going ahead and driving.”
To access Tipsy Tow, call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) and ask for Tipsy Tow. There are just two restrictions: the tow must be within a 15-mile radius of point of pickup, and there is only one place AAA will take you and your car: home.
For information on Oklahoma road conditions, check The Oklahoman and/or NewsOK.com.
Holidays and winter days are just around the corner, and now’s a good time to make those last-minute preparations for colder weather.
If you haven’t already, there are some key repairs you should make, the experts say. Such as:
* If you have a fireplace, have it cleaned and inspected. A chimney sweep can remove built-up soot and creosote, which can lead to a chimney fire.
* Check the mortar for gaps and chips.
* Use a cap or screen on the top of the chimney to keep out birds and small animals. Fireplace experts say you should inspect the fireplace damper to make sure it opens and closes properly.
* Buy or cut up firewood and store it in a dry place, preferably away from the home exterior., call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
* Have a professional inspect your furnace. Clean the ducts.
* Change the furnace filters. If possible, have extras on hand.
* A programmable thermostate can help regulate temperatures better and save you money.
* If you have a hot-water radiator, have the valves bled. This is done by slightly opening them, then, when water appears, close them.
* Make sure all flammable material is removed from around the furnace.
* Check all doors and windows leading to the outside. Look for cracks and exposed areas around pipes. Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
* Replace cracked glass.
* If you have a basement, check for any water or gas leakes. You might want to protect window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
* Clean out gutters an downspouts.
* If necessary, add extra insulation in your attic and any other location that will accept it. Also be sure to inspect the roof and the flashing to avoid leaks.
* Check your foundation and seal up or cover any spaces where small animals could get under the house.
* Drain all outside hoses and disconnect them from the faucet, then cover the faucet.
* Know where your water cutoff is located.
These are just some preparations you can make. Learn more by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma and checking the resources area.
It’s happened again. Another family member has been banged around near my least favorite interchange anywhere — Broadway Extension and Interstate 44.
Come to think of it, the color red was involved … again.
I think it might be time to consider some alternatives.
Wednesday, my daughter-in-law, Kristy, was on her way home during rush hour when she had to slow down quickly in traffic. The driver behind her apparently didn’t see what was happening in time and her vehicle slammed into Kristy’s bright red car. The force of the impact was severe enough to cause Kristy’s car to roll onto its side, then right itself.
Her injuries may be minor, but the car looks pretty bad. Actually, both cars were heavily damaged, if not totaled.
That area is bad enough, but add the heavy rush-hour traffic (morning or night) and it becomes a nightmare.
That’s what got my son back in his college days, just up the road and on the other side from where Kristy’s accident occurred. He was driving my vehicle (which was red … OK, maroon … and white) to school and had a collision with a woman in a van who came up from the access road, as I recall. Luckily, no one was injured.
And I’ve heard numerous stories from readers about hits and near-misses on either side of the interchange, particularly the northbound east side, where vehicles attempt to get onto the Extension.
Now, with construction under way and to continue for at least a few years, that interchange is even MORE dangerous. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the city, the police department, The Oklahoman, other news media … we’ve all tried to warn motorists, but you can count on accidents.
So once again I offer this reminder to be careful, patient and pay attention if you have to drive through that interchange. Use an alternate route if you can. And maybe avoid driving anything red?
Read more about traveling Oklahoma streets and highways in my Traffic Talk column each Monday in The Oklahoman and every day on NewsOK.com.