WAGONER COUNTY, Okla. – Four months of work and $250,000 county-invested dollars put into a rural road project and residents living in the area are starting to question when it will be completed.
In December, road crews milled two miles of East 111th Street and two miles of South 257th East Avenue to get ahead of the state's budget crisis but since then, not much has changed.
It’s been difficult for some residents to picture what the end result of the upgrades will entail.
"The dust is incredible, and we're just tired. And we wish that they'd come and finish the job as soon as they can because it's just no [sic] fair,” said Mario Brunetti, who lives near the intersection.
Years ago the road served as a gravelly passage way to Tulsa and one resident, Harvey Lamberson, remembers what it was like to travel on.
"I knew this road when it was a gravel state highway and this was the only way to go to Tulsa on this road right here."
More than 70 percent of the project, $850,000, is being funded by the State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Monty Proctor, Wagoner County engineer, says beginning the road work in December was crucial for the project's completion because of the state's impending budget crisis.
"If we didn't kick off until later in the year, there would be a high probability that those funds would be reconsumed by the state," he said.
In addition to the funds provided by DEQ and the in-kind costs incurred by Wagoner County for things like manpower, equipment and fuel, $80,000 will come from the University of Oklahoma.
Proctor says the DEQ plans to test asphalt that is partly comprised of recycled tires, which is something that hasn’t been done in an Oklahoma town for years.
"I do think in this area, with the traffic volumes we've got, if we put a good highway grade pavement in place we shouldn't have an ongoing maintenance problem for decades to come,” said Proctor.
In one mile on East 111th Street the experimental pavement will consist of a control, as well as five percent, 10 percent and 20 percent tire mixtures to determine which is best.
"That should give the university and the Department of Transportation all of the base information they need for the performance based on the heavy traffic," Proctor said.
In the meantime, current conditions on the road have drivers worried about their vehicles, more specifically the tires.
A mix of rain and continued traffic, despite the ongoing work, is leading to potholes and rough travel in some areas.
"Unlike the state, or a city, we build the roads under traffic. We do our best not to close roads. We can't. It's their only access to their driveways in some of the cases on 111th," Proctor explained.
There is hope, however. Proctor says they expect the pavement on the roads to be started and completed sometime in the month of April following an open bidding to private contractors.
Lamberson says he feels his neighbors' pain but also hopes they're focused a bigger picture.
"It’s just pertinence is what they need to have, I think."
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