UPDATE, Thursday, 4/25: Luther Road will not close until after Luther Public Schools is out for the summer, according to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Spokesman Jack Damrill says other closures are happening, “I know on May 6th and 7th, we will be closing a portion of the Turner Turnpike to demolish the old Luther Road bridge over the Turnpike.” The last day of school in Luther is May 14, 2019.
Luther, OK – The flashing sign alerted motorists this week that a stretch of Luther Road between 164th Street and 150th Street would close on May 8. The alert caused immediate concern for those who drive the road daily. There was also concern about the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the detours when minutes matter.
Most acknowledge a temporary closing of the road would be inevitable at some point as part of the multi-year construction of the 21-mile toll road that connects the Turner Turnpike to I-40. For a couple of years now, those who must traverse this area have been well aware of the constant construction and deterioration of existing roads. The path of the turnpike is roughly along Luther and Peebly Roads from the Turner/I-44 bridge on Luther Road just south of Luther, all the way down to the end point at I-40. However, the timing of the closing while Luther schools is still in session, combined with other closures of side roads like Memorial and 150th, caused some to try to get it delayed.
The closing of Luther Road just south of the bridge over the existing Turner Turnpike will require some maneuvering to get through the maze of construction to find another bridge that crosses I-44 to get to Luther. To complicate matters, the bridge on Harrah Road just north of 164th Street is being repaired so that stretch of Harrah Road is closed.
One commenter on Facebook said she was trying to get to Harrah today and got so confused, she went back home to try again. Others are concerned about the extra time it will take to get kids to school and to get to work. Some wonder about medical emergencies and police, medical and fire response times.
Word on Wednesday was meetings took place between the powers that be to try to delay the closing, at least until after the last day of school in Luther. There was also to be some discussion between the county and contractors about the damage being caused on roads surrounding the toll road construction.
On the Driving Forward website, the EOC page has a crawl listing the following road closures, but residents who drive in the area say the list is not complete:
Memorial Road between N Luther and N Peebly
NE 150 between N Luther and N Peebly
Wilshire between N Luther and N Peebly
S Luther Rd between NE 23 and NE 10
E Reno between S Luther and S Peebly
SE 29 between S Luther and S Peebly
SE 44 between S Luther and S Peebly
Luther Road over I-40
A map of the route lists that awards for the toll road construction have topped $250 million. Damrill said the EOC is scheduled to open in late 2020 or early 2021.