Work to begin on SH-4 improvements

Members of the Yukon City Council were joined by state officials Wednesday in a ceremony to mark the start of a project that will widen State Highway 4. The $13 million project will include adding a center turn lane as well as shoulders to the highway. Also part of the project is the constructon of a new bridge over the North Canadian River. Photo / Terry Groover

For Shelli Selby, Wednesday was an emotional day.
Selby was among the officials who participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a long-awaited road project on the northern edge of Yukon.
The ceremony, which was held just south of Wilshire Boulevard, marked the beginning of a project that will transform State Highway 4 into what is known as a “super” two-lane highway.
Work on the project is expected to begin Monday, officials said.
It will take between 12 and 18 months to complete.
“I am so excited that this is finally happening. It has been needed for so long. I am thrilled that we are going to do this. To all the mamas who have lost children on this road, we’re doing this for you,” Selby, who was trying to hold back her emotions, said.
The project, which is the first of three phases, will widen the highway to include center turn lanes as well as shoulders.
Currently, the road has neither.
In addition, three outdated bridges that cross the North Canadian River and two tributaries will be replaced with a single 1,500-foot bridge.
The first phase of the project, which is being handled by Tulsa-based Manhattan Bridge, is expected to cost a little more than $13 million. That is more than $2 million below the original estimate.
The work will be from Wagner Road to just beyond Wilshire Boulevard.
The project also is expected to straighten out several curves to help make the road safer.
City Manager Jim Crosby said the project has been a longtime goal for Yukon.
“It’s great to see it happen. It’s something we’ve been working on for years,” he said. “Now that this has started, we’re looking forward to Phase 2.”
The work that begins Monday is the first of three phases. The second phase, which is expected to begin in about two years, will widen and relocate the road from Main Street to Wagner Road.
A third phase will widen and straighten the roadway from Wilshire to Northwest Expressway.
That portion of the project is in Oklahoma City.
Crosby said it is important for these projects be completed, especially with the growth that is anticipated in the area north of Wilshire.
“You have to do one step at a time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael McEachern agreed that finally seeing work begin on the project is exciting. It’s also something he never expected to see.
“This is a big day for Yukon. We’ve been working on Highway 4 for almost as long as I’ve been here. … Highway 4, over the years, has been a serious traffic problem,” he said. “We’ve gotten to the point, where hopefully, this will be the final fix.”
McEachern pointed out that there have been several fatal accidents along the road. The goal is to make the highway safer.
The improved roadway, he said, also is important to Yukon’s future growth to the north.
More than 1,200 homes are being planned in the area and McEachern said many of those residents will shop in Yukon.
That means traveling the highway.
“I couldn’t ask for us to be more forward looking than we have been in the last 10 years. We’ve really looked forward by putting in more intersections and more infrastructure. This has always been the biggie,” he said.
“We’ve worked on this so long. It is finally come to fruition. For me, knowing that I was here, when it happened. For a long time, I doubted it would happen. But, it is here and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

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