OKLAHOMA CITY — A bid has been accepted by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation during to widen Oklahoma Highway 59 in Grove, state Sen. Charles Wyrick and state Rep. Doug Cox announced Wednesday.

The plan to widen the highway from two to five lanes with a center turn lane has been years in the making because of multiple delays in acquiring the right-of-way, difficulty in relocating utility infrastructure and engineering complexities of dealing with the number of entrances and exits along that stretch of road, Wyrick said.

“This project was planned several years ago when Representative Joe Hutchison and Senator Rick Littlefield were still legislators,” Wyrick, D-Fairland, said. “Obviously, there have been numerous delays, but now we are at the point where we can break ground and get this road finished for our citizens.

“This project compliments the recently completed Sailboat Bridge, which was the most expensive bridge ever built in Oklahoma, and the highway widening and new bridge on the Honey Creek side of Grove. It’s been a long time coming but will be worth the wait.”

The highway will be widened in Grove between Sailboat Bridge and Leisure Lane. Cox anticipates the project will begin in early November with asphalt being laid in January. The $19 million project should be completed by the end of 2009, said Cox, R-Grove.

“Originally, the estimate for the project was only $6 million, but oil prices have sent the cost of asphalt skyrocketing lately with no real end in sight,” Cox said. “However, ODOT officials realized how necessary this project is to our area because of increased traffic and population growth, and they voted to proceed even with the increased cost.”

Cox and Wyrick both complimented ODOT director Gary Ridley and ODOT District Engineer Randall White for their diligence in working with the commission to get the project approved.

“This will improve safety dramatically and should result in a marked decrease in the number of rear-end collisions we have between downtown and Sailboat Bridge,” said Grove City Manager Bruce Johnson.