I-35/Covell ramps

Director of Engineering Steve Manek explains the need of improving driving conditions when accessing exit and entrance ramps along U.S. Interstate 35 and Covell Road.

Traffic safety issues are prompting the attention of the City of Edmond at U.S. Interstate 35 and Covell Road. Capital improvement projects planned for the exit and entrance ramps were discussed Monday at an Edmond City Council budget workshop. 

High traffic volume demand at I-35 and Covell has accelerated the need to improve north and south traffic signals and turn lanes there with 100% city funds, said Larry Stevens, city manager.

The city has budgeted $3 million to expedite the project more quickly than if it was to wait for a portion of state funding. Traffic volume has increased dramatically on the ramps, Stevens emphasized.

Mayor Dan O’Neil said budgeting the $3 million would be the first time the city has funded an I-35 project.

“We thought it would be a good service to the community to try to address this on our own,” Stevens explained.

The exits and entrance ramps are being designed by Triad Design Group, said Steve Manek, city engineer. A bid letting for the project is anticipated by the end of December.

“The off-ramps specifically during the p.m. rush are very difficult to get off. There is a lot more traffic on east/west Covell,” Manek said.

Dual left turn lanes will be added as well as signal lights on the on and off ramps. Evaluations will be made on the southbound on ramp, Manek continued. Geometrics based on survey data needs evaluation on eastbound lanes to the off ramps. Vehicles move through traffic from the opposite direction without designated turn signals.

“Very challenging situations sometimes in the morning with some accidents and near misses,” Manek said.

A motorcyclist was killed a few years ago on one of the ramps, Manek noted.

Off ramps are owned by the state. The signals would be the city’s property. Plans must be submitted to ODOT for final approval, but ODOT supports the need for improvements, Manek said.