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Officials to address drop-offs along Oklahoma City’s roads

March 25, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — On NW 150, in a mostly rural part of Oklahoma City, the aging asphalt pavement of the two-lane road is full of potholes.

Farther west of N Morgan Road, NW 150 becomes a gravel road alongside wheat fields and a farm near a one-lane bridge. The road then winds next to the steep banks of Deer Creek. A red traffic reflector is nailed to a barbed wire fence post, warning of a steep drop-off. Illegal dumpers have been here. An industrial-size, disassembled dryer is next to a stack of used carpet padding, eyesores on the narrow shoulder near a ledge above the creek.

On a recent day, the driver of a small car going too fast for the road approached a slight curve to the left of a utility pole and fish-tailed in the gravel. The car slid within inches of the pole. The pole is just a few feet away from a 20- to 25-foot drop-off into the creek below.

The driver of the car managed to stay on the road, and kept going west, The Oklahoman reported.

While more and more housing additions are being built nearby, there are no plans to reconstruct NW 150 for now, city streets officials said.

Oklahoma City is not known for mountains or cliffs, but there are plenty of hills and creeks and some dangerous drop-offs from streets where guardrails or signs might be found.

Shannon Cox, Oklahoma City Public Works spokeswoman, said city public works officials add guardrails or signs when the roadway is reconstructed.

“When we encounter drop-offs, typically when resurfacing rural roads, we address the issue as needed with guardrail or other measures,” Cox said.

Along the west side of Lake Overholser, a tree-lined lake road called S Overholser Drive is a scenic route that winds from the dam just north of NW 10 to State Highway 66 in west Oklahoma City. There are gravel spots near the banks to parallel park.

Just west of the dam, police recently found car parts and tire tracks along the lake road leading into the water. A submerged car was recovered from the lake on March 7.

The bodies of Jordan Vladimir Chaj Gonzales, 19, and Kelvin Perez-Lopez, 18, both former Putnam City West High School students who were from Guatemala, were recovered nearby. Perez-Lopez had been reported missing on Feb. 5, police said. Gonzales was reported missing in Bethany, police Lt. Angelo Orefice said.

Master Sgt. Gary Knight said most collisions that cause fatalities or injuries happen in busy intersections.

On a recent Sunday, the curve around the Lake Hefner road on the west side of the lake proved to be dangerous for one speeding driver. The woman driving was not hurt when her sport utility vehicle failed to make a curve and went into shallow water there. She was able to walk out for help unharmed, police said.

Not far from the spot, back in 1963, the driver of a Cadillac went off a road into a duck pond that was once alongside W Lake Hefner Road. The driver and passenger were missing for 27 years.

Margery Elston, 41, and her daughter, Melinda, 18, disappeared after they left their home to run an errand.

Police ruled the women died when the car accidentally veered off the road and sank in the pond. The car was not found until April 1990 when work was being done to build the existing Lake Hefner Parkway.

A car plunged off the Oklahoma River bridge on Interstate 35 near downtown in 2004. Wesley Hollingsworth, a petty officer 3rd class with Navy Strategic Communications Wing One at Tinker Air Force Base, stopped and dove into the river to break out a window of the car to rescue a 7-year-old boy.

On Jan. 1, 1991, on Canal Road along Bluff Creek Canal, a small pickup plunged down an embankment into icy water. The death prompted city officials to put up permanent guardrails near the canal between Lake Overholser and Lake Hefner.

Cox said the Public Works Department maintains 3,500 miles of Oklahoma City roadways that need repairs to potholes, guardrails and curbs.

“Public Works understands the condition of city streets is the top concern for residents,” Cox said.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com