Traveling State Highway 74 north just south of Waterloo Road is one of Oklahoma County’s last unpaved roads.
In the Deer Creek Public Schools district, about 10 homes are nestled off Rush Creek Road on rural, wooded acreages with open pastures and room for horses. A home is for sale on 10 acres of land, and another 10 acres zoned for commercial development lies to the east.
A sales pitch for the house for sale off Rush Creek Road mentions the quiet country living and the low light pollution in the night skies. But the lights of the city are coming, and getting brighter.
State Highway 74, aka N. Portland Ave., is nearly widened from two lanes to four lanes from W. Memorial Road to Waterloo Road, and the completion of the 20-year project is expected to open the gates to rapid commercial and residential development, those working and living in the area say.
The new corridor is anticipated to open by mid-November, said Lisa Salim, Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokeswoman. Rainy weather delayed the work in spring. Widening work started almost 20 years ago on SH-74 in north Oklahoma City, and has cost about $136 million over two decades, according to the ODOT website.
The last two years have been tough ones along SH-74, said Sam Coury, a Deer Creek entrepreneur, who brought the first commercial development to the Deer Creek school district about 20 years ago when he opened Deer Creek Crossing at N.W. 178th St. and SH-74. He recalls the days SH-74 was two-lanes all the way to Enid.
The recent construction work has detoured customers and business.
“It has cut our business about 65%,” Coury said.
At N.W. 206th St. and SH-74, Emily Hess, of Edmond, opened the Beacon Coffee Stand at 3700 N.W. 206th St. this summer. She knows her customers have avoided her new location because of the construction. She formerly had a coffee stand at 5th St. and Broadway in downtown Edmond.
“I’ve been here only about six weeks,” Hess said. “I have a lot of social media followers and sometimes it is challenging for people to find us as they have to go out of their way.”
She added, “A lot of people avoid this intersection and don’t go down this way because of the construction.”
Hess is expecting more traffic and customers soon, as the work is expected to wrap up by December. The work is expected to be finished by mid-November despite 90 days of weather delays, Salim said.
The final phase of the widening work is between N.W 164th St. and N.W. 206th St. at a cost of $22 million. Intersections with four-way stop signs have caused congestion during morning and evening rush hours. A drive from Waterloo Road to W. Memorial Road on SH-74 southbound during the morning rush hour took about 20 minutes to travel the eight mile distance.
Salim said N.W. 178th St. and SH-74 has reopened, although additional lane closures are ahead to finish up the work.
“We just want people to be prepared for this big, last push of the work,” Salim said.
Final layers of asphalt and striping work is being completed. Cable barriers will also be installed.
The traffic count in the area of SH-74 and Waterloo Road, the Oklahoma and Logan County line, is expected to increase to more than 30,000 vehicles a day in the next decade, ODOT projects. There currently are about 10,000 vehicles through the intersection a day.
Work to add signal lights for all four directions at the Waterloo Road/SH-74 intersection will begin this month. On the south end of the project, retail and commercial development in Oklahoma City, and the John Kilpatrick Turnpike, is found at W. Memorial Road. A new OnCue is being built at N.W. 164th St. and apartments and homes continue to be built near N.W. 150th St.
Salim said about 30,000 vehicles a day travel on SH-74 on the south end of the project near W. Memorial Road.
She said motorists should remember to drive carefully in any construction zone for workers’ safety.
“We want motorists to know we appreciate their patience and the end is in sight,” Salim said.