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Traffic Talk: Shedding light on a darkened interstate intersection

Don Gammill: Oklahoma City and state transportation officials respond to intersection lighting concerns at Interstate 35 and Memorial Road.
By DON GAMMILL, The Oklahoman Published: January 7, 2013

It didn't take long to realize this reader's concerns just might cross more than one jurisdictional line.

I have often found it very difficult to find the on-ramp to northbound Interstate 35 from Memorial Road at night. As you know, the exit ramp from Interstate 35 is the first intersection you come to going north from Memorial Road on the service road. Then, there is a gap before coming to the on-ramp for the highway. This is confusing in the daylight and nearly impossible to see in the dark. I wonder if it would be wise and possible for there to be a big light put there to allow better visibility? I-35 is lit up like a town, but this particular on-ramp is as dark as a Third World country. If not a light, maybe even some better road striping and signage would help.


That is an area, Cheryl, where the city limits of Edmond and Oklahoma City, in addition to an interstate highway under the control of the state Transportation Department, are involved. So the best thing to do, I thought, was to contact all three.

Here is what happened.

Edmond's traffic planner, Tom Minnick, studied the situation and sent me an aerial photo of the location, with an overlay of the city limits. It shows the boundaries for the site in question and, he showed me, ruled out Edmond because the specific area of concern was east of his city's limits.

After reviewing the map, the transportation department's Cody Boyd said his people checked things out.

Maintenance crews checked the ramp to ensure that it is properly signed for drivers, he said. “The northbound on-ramp has a typical route marker with an arrow pointing at the ramp entrance, and the northbound off-ramp has multiple ‘Do Not Enter' and ‘Wrong Way' signs in place so drivers won't go in the wrong area.”

Cody said transportation department crews did some lane striping work on the ramp for better visibility. That was a big plus.

Then, Stuart Chai, city traffic engineer for Oklahoma City, checked out maps, photos and additional information, noting there actually are two high mast towers there to illuminate the area. If the lights aren't working, he said, OG&E is called in for maintenance.

After the updates from Cody and Stuart, I drove through the area to get a better grasp of the situation. There actually are two high mast towers just south of the Memorial Road ramps on the northbound (east) side of the highway and one at Memorial Road on the west. The west side lights were working; the east side was pitch black.

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