There are plenty of problems brought to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s attention on a regular basis. However, it’s not as often that a problem is presented with a ready-made solution in hand. This was the case for ODOT’s $17 million diamond interchange on I-40 in the City of El Reno. City officials, residents and business owners heartily welcomed the new interstate exit to town as a solution to a long-term problem of truck traffic using the aging SH-66 and city streets to access a burgeoning industrial area dominated by the energy service industry.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation, a leading Oklahoma oil and gas company, approached ODOT leadership in 2011 to find a way to create better access to El Reno’s east side where it was heavily investing resources because of the community’s central location. The company did more than ask for a brand new interstate interchange; it offered a $2.5 million investment to partner with the state and the Federal Highway Administration, paying for all engineering costs, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, environmental mitigation and about 20 percent of the bridge and ramp construction for the new interchange. The City of El Reno also pitched into the partnership and helped fund the widening of Radio Rd. to four lanes up to SH-66. In the end, the community ended up with a much-needed interchange that also benefited area businesses, ultimately contributing to the well-being of the economy.