I-44 Project Gets Federal Nod and Business Bounces Back - KTUL.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma - News, Weather & Sports

I-44 Project Gets Federal Nod and Business Bounces Back

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If you are tired of the construction on 1-44--you will see some relief in a few months.  Federal and state officials said they were pleased with the progress, during a tour today.

Right now Lewis is shut down--traffic detoured--with the last of the widening project.  But there's a larger picture you may not see--from behind the wheel.

All of the construction is frustrating for drivers and businesses. But if you hang on and deal with the orange, green could be the payoff for everyone.

At NYC Pizza, the pies are hot and ready for consumption. But in 2010 business was cool and consumed by construction on 1-44.

"It was where you had to pay attention to nickels and dimes had to watch it. You're supposed to always do that in business but if you didn't at that particular time, you'd feel it the next day," said K. J. Lehman, owner.

As they counted pepperonis and ounces of cheese, construction moved down the road. And now business is up 35-percent.

But now drivers are detouring and another area suffers--for the good of the country.

"There is always a user cost to building infrastructure and the thing about it is this road is going to last 50 years and although it is short term pain, I say long term gain," said Alex Hergott, from the U.S. Chamber.  He says this highway is major, when it comes to transporting goods to other regions and other countries.

He was one of several  dignitaries touring I-44 today. The widening of the last section--has come with headaches, shutting down Lewis for now. And the on and off entry, so close, near 41st and Sheridan.

"It is almost like doing open heart surgery in the back of a pickup going down the road. I mean it is pretty delicate operation because we have to keep things moving at the same time," explained State Secretary of Transpiration, Gary Ridley.

So, sorry for the inconvenience, drivers, but this is not just about Tulsa--or just about pizza. It's about more pepperoni pizzas and pennies.

"Right now we got another three slices of business, another three slices of the pie, extra cheese, the works!" laughed Lehman, about his rebound. 

The highway will be complete finished in 2014.

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