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Business owners worry over I-244 delay

Business owners worry over I-244 delay


News on 2: Reported by: Keidron Dotson

Lunchtime at El Rio Verde means a packed house with a mix of conversations filling the room.

Owners say business is booming for two reasons.

A good menu and a great location.

"Well the main advantages are easy access. Here its' just 244 exit Utica. Everybody knows Utica so it's convient," said El Rio Verde owner Abel Gonzalez.

The restaurant's easy access is about to face a quick change.

On Monday Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews begin a seven month project worth $75 million dollars.

Crews will install 44 new bridge decks and more than 6 miles of new paving.

The project will shut down the I-244 westbound lanes around the inner dispersal loop.

The north and west legs in the southbound direction will be closed as well.

40 message boards will be set up alerting drivers of any delays.

"Overall I tell you anytime you can put money into your infrastructure you are going to bring money into the economy. This is will one way to help tulsa out significantly and the surrounding cities," said ODOT Engineer Bruce Arnold.

But business owners like Gonzales wonder if the project could instead finished in phases to avoid highway shutdowns.

Engineers say that's not possible, and stretching the project would cost even more money and time.

"I agree construction is painful but once the project is complete the public will really get a benefit." said Arnold.

Benefits that officials say will soon help everyone.

As long as they can keep the public's patience.

"I just hope they are working as hard as they can and they have the funds to see the job through," said Gonzales.

After this project crews will shut down eastbound lanes of I-244 for another seven months.

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