Traffic heads west on West Lee Boulevard Tuesday, while members of the City Council approved an agreement with an engineering firm to analyze the south Lawton arterial between Goodyear Boulevard to Interstate 44, with an eye toward upgrades.

City Council members approved an agreement with EST Inc. Tuesday calculated to give them an idea of what needs to be done to upgrade a large segment of Lee Boulevard — and how much it will cost.

The $232,700 agreement with EST will complement an agreement the firm already has with another city entity, one to evaluate a proposal to extend Goodyear Boulevard beyond its existing termination point, so it can tie into the U.S.62/Rogers Lane overpass to create a new bypass.

EST’s analysis will look at Lee Boulevard from Goodyear Boulevard to an area near Interstate 44, or up to the point where the Oklahoma Department of Transportation assumes maintenance of East Lee Boulevard because it also is Oklahoma 7, said Amanda Newberry, EST engineer. The work to upgrade the south Lawton arterial was one of the proposals City of Lawton leaders made while they were arguing the points of the 2019 Capital Improvements Program.

The agreement with EST is intended to provide analysis of existing road conditions, what needs to be done to upgrade various segments of Lee Boulevard, and what the approximate costs will be. Newberry, explaining the project to the council, said it includes 7.75 miles of Lee Boulevard, plus 2.2 miles of the existing Goodyear Boulevard between West Lee Boulevard and Old Cache Road.

During her presentation, Newberry said the arterial has three distinct sections that will involve different analysis and proposed work: open asphalt (meaning, shoulders without curbs) between Goodyear Boulevard and Southwest 67th Street; asphalt with curb and gutter between Southwest 67th Street and an area just east of South Sheridan Road; and concrete pavement overlaid with asphalt from near South Sheridan Road to just west of Interstate 44 (where it returns to open asphalt).

The assessment of existing pavement will take accident data and traffic counts into account, Newberry said, with assessment to include walking and driving tours “to see incidents of (pavement) fatigue” as well as core samples to analyze the base material and surrounding clay soil.

The resulting report will offer recommendations for upgrades, to include tactics such as cold mill and overlay (grinding off the road’s top layer, then smoothing it with new overlay), adding new overlay to the existing surface, or rebuilding sections of deteriorating pavement, and suggestions for sidewalks.

Rebuilding may be a preferred option in the analysis of Goodyear Boulevard at the Lee Boulevard ramp area and the turning areas near the entrance to Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Newberry said damaged pavement in those areas is the result of heavy turning trucks. Newberry said that part of the project will tie into a plan city leaders have pondered for years: creating a bypass for the west industrial park by extending Goodyear Boulevard north and east, to tie into the U.S. 62/Rogers Lane overpass on Lawton’s west edge.

EST already is working on that project, Newberry said, adding the firm also has begun plans for what it designates Phase I of the Lee Boulevard project: Goodyear Boulevard to Southwest 82nd Street (although that segment could easily be extended to Southwest 67th Street, she said).

Although the entire analysis project is calculated to take 285 days, it is possible preliminary discussions could be ready by mid-October as the firm fast-tracks the project, Newberry said. That would allow the company to have design plans for Phase I ready in time for construction in Spring 2021.

The Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments already is helping city officials with an application to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce for a $2 million grant for the section of Lee Boulevard from Goodyear Boulevard to Southwest 38th Street, Newberry said.