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SH-20 Keetonville Hill Realignment Project in Oklahoma Wins ACEC National Recognition Award

COLLINSVILLE, OK — A Garver-designed transportation project to increase safety and efficiency on the State Highway 20 (SH-20) corridor in Northeast Oklahoma has won one of the industry’s most prestigious honors — the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) National Recognition Award in the 2024 Engineering Excellence Awards competition.

The SH-20 project begins just east of U.S. 169 and extends eastward to SH-66, connecting Collinsville, Owasso, and Claremore in the northeast corner of the state and serves as an important corridor for these growing communities. The SH-20 Keetonville Hill Realignment project focused on a challenging stretch of highway, a 4-mile section of the corridor with a higher-than-average collision rate and unreliable travel time caused by increasing traffic.

“I’m proud of many aspects of this project — our collaboration with our partners, the services we provided, and the great result for Oklahomans and travelers to the state,” said Kevin Moore, PE, Garver Transportation Project Manager. “To have ACEC honor ODOT and Garver with a National Recognition Award for this work is incredibly rewarding.”

This two-lane roadway had no shoulders, poor visibility both over hills and around blind corners, and rock slides, creating safety hazards and high maintenance costs. It also included a bridge crossing the Verdigris River that was deemed “at-risk.” In response to these deficiencies, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) pursued solutions to increase safety, improve the flow of traffic, and reduce costs.

Garver provided services for the full design life of the project, including preliminary alternative analysis and impact assessment, public involvement outreach, roadway and drainage design, bridge and structural design, traffic design and construction sequencing, and environmental impact assessment and documentation. The final design included a highway realignment south of the existing roadway, away from the face of Keetonville Hill.

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This involved a deep rock cut through the area, approaching 120 feet at its deepest, which required extensive geotechnical investigations, coordination with designers in states where this kind of deep rock excavation is more common, and coordination with rock blasting subcontractors.

Arriving at this design solution meant working through the unique complexities related to the deep rock cut, as well as the complex challenges of maintaining traffic on the existing highway during construction, and layout and design of the new bridge.

“Innovation was key with this very complex project,” said Jennifer Bullard, PE, ODOT District 8 Construction Engineer. “This project faced many challenges that were mitigated by excellent collaboration between ODOT, the contractor, and Garver. From slope stability of significant rock cuts to large geometric safety improvements, this project was successful due to the diligent approach taken by all parties involved.”

The successful results of the project include an increase in traffic capacity, thanks to the construction of a five-lane roadway section. Safety has greatly increased as well, since the five-lane section includes two through lanes and a center lane, allowing left-turning vehicles a place to stop outside of traffic, and since the highway realignment has reduced the potential for rock slides and expanded visibility with improved geometry. The new 625-foot steel bridge, replacing the “at-risk” bridge over the Verdigris River, also improves safety.

Overall, the SH-20 Keetonville Hill realignment project provides safe, efficient transportation for travelers in Northeast Oklahoma.

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