Turnpike Construction Causes Delayed Emergency Response Times

Bison Blinds

Luther – The day Luther Road closed on May 15 due to construction of the Eastern Oklahoma County Turnpike, the Luther Fire Department responded to a call and encountered “chaos” and delay to get to the fire of an abandoned mobile home that was near a fireworks cache.

Luther Road between 150 & 164 is closed for 180 days.

Luther Fire Chief John Brown said the fire engine and tanker zigzagged its way to the scene near County Line Road and 122nd Street. He said they had to take County Line Road to 150th and over to Harrah Road to Memorial Road and then back to County Line to get to the emergency.

As most residents and commuters in the area know, Luther Road is the only straight shot south toward Harrah and Choctaw. The construction of the Turner Turnpike more than 50 years ago sliced access from the north to the south in this part of Eastern Oklahoma County. Now, the construction of the new toll road weaves between Luther Road and Peebly Road for 21 miles, including the spot between 164th and 150th where a bridge will be constructed over Luther Road.

“It could have been a disaster with the extra time it took. It’s aggravating when you can’t get there,” he said. The bright side is that LFD had already arranged with Hickory Hills Fire Department to respond with mutual aid for structure and major fires. Hickory Hills, located near Hefner Road and Dobbs, beat LFD to the scene of this fire because it had no obstructions from the station.

Luther Firefighters extinguish a fire near a fireworks storage area. Photo provided by LFD.
Construction of the new Eastern Oklahoma County toll road causes road closures and delays.

To complicate matters, Harrah Road at 164th Street continues to be closed for Oklahoma County to complete bridge work. Chief Brown has worked with Oklahoma County District Superintendent Brian Jasper to try to get that job done sooner rather than later. Crews were still working at the intersection after 6 pm on Thursday.

Chief Brown also said that going west at the detour off of Luther Road and 164th is problematic because of the poor condition of the road with “pot holes a foot deep,” due in part to poor maintenance and the increased traffic of heavy equipment for the toll road construction.

Luther Road between 164th and 150th streets is slated to be closed for 180 days, according to the “Driving Forward” website.

Source: Luther Fire Department. LFD service area. Yellow blocks indicate road closures.

If you see smoke, Chief Brown encourages residents in the Luther fire district who are south of town to “go ahead and call 911, the quicker the better. Even if it is a controlled burn, it can turn bad quickly, just call.” He said the more lead time to get to a medical or fire scene, the better.

Both the Luther and Hickory Hills Fire Departments are volunteer fire departments. In April, The Luther Fire Department responded to 30 calls.

Luther Volunteer Fire Department April 2019 Report

Fire Calls: 4
Medical Calls: 17
Vehicle Accident Calls: 1
Child Locked in Car Calls:1
Dispatched & Disregarded Calls:2
Special Event/Other Calls:5

Total Calls: 30

Submitted: LFD to Luther Town Board

The new bridge over Luther Road over the Turner Turnpike is open. The closure of the road is south of this area.

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