Opening ceremony held for Highway 70 bypass
by By Jessica Breger Staff Writer
Trucks and cars now have a new way to get around the Durant area. The long-awaited Highway 70 bypass over Durant was officially opened Tuesday afternoon.
At 10:30 a.m. a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the $65 million project.
This portion of the bypass stretches from about three miles west of Durant to State Highway 78 and is now open for traffic.
Several representatives from agencies involved in the project were present for the ceremony. This included state and local government officials as well as ODOT representatives.
ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson said this project is a game changer project for this area. He said that this project will take a lot of truck traffic off of the roads of Durant.
Patterson also commented that when phase two is complete on the east end of the city, it will result in much faster and safer travel in the area.
Officials agreed that the benefits of the bypass include safer travel and cleaner air due to truck traffic moving off of the city roadways and sitting at stop lights.
They also agreed that it will help preserve the roads themselves as there will be less heavy trucks warping and deteriorating them.
City officials also said they hope this will mean further growth of industry in Durant.
“If you want jobs to come, build roads,” said City Manager James Dunegan.
He said that cities tend to “grow to” bypasses such as this that bring more people into the area. Both Dunegan and City Mayor Jerry Tomlinson expressed their excitement of seeing completion of the project.
Both have been involved in the project since its conception sometime in approximately 1998.
“To be involved early and be here today is really a sense of fruitfulness and success,” said Tomlinson.
Special thanks were also given to David Smith and Billy Mickle for their parts in bringing this project to life. The second phase of the project extending the bypass east is set to be complete approximately at the end of 2014.
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