Cherokee Nation Contributes $411K to Washington County Highway Project

Thousands of Cherokee Nation citizens visit the Cooweescoowee Health Center in Ochelata via U.S. Highway 75.

Published July 21, 2018

Intersection project to provide safer traffic to Ochelata health center

OCHELATA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation was recently awarded a $411,000 grant that will be used to prevent traffic collisions and improve the flow of traffic on U.S. Highway 75 near the Cooweescoowee Health Center in Ochelata.

The grant is from Tribal Transportation Safety Funds, which are set aside by the federal government each year to address transportation safety issues in Indian Country. Funds are awarded to federally recognized tribes through a competitive, discretionary program.

Work is expected to begin in late summer or early fall at the intersection of U.S.75 and EW2900 Road. Among the project plans is the installation of a “J-turn” and a deceleration lane on the highway.

“Cherokee Nation’s Department of Transportation works hard throughout the year to secure federal funding that will make a big difference on the roads and highways of northeast Oklahoma,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Thousands of Cherokees visit the Cooweescoowee Health Center each year, traveling through this busy intersection while going to and from the health center. It’s a welcome relief to know this project will save lives and improve the quality of life in the area.”

The Ochelata Health Center had nearly 50,000 patient visits in fiscal year 2017.

Tribal Councilor Dick Lay, of Ochelata, said an upgrade and turn off lane is great news for his community and appreciates tribal health center employees, county commissioners, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Cherokee Nation roads program officials working together.

“It will make turning into the Cherokee Nation Cooweescoowee Health Centerso much safer,” Councilor Lay said. “This is a good lesson that when everyone has input, and agrees what the goal is, and all pulling in the same direction what can be accomplished.”

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is contributing the balance of funds necessary for completion of the project, which is $678,421 total. ODOT is also designing the project.

“Anytime we are able to work with the state of Oklahoma to pool our resources and improve the lives of Cherokees and all residents, that’s a win for northeast Oklahoma,” Cherokee Nation Transportation Department Director Michael Lynn said. “We’re anxious to get this project in Washington County started.”

Cherokee Nation’s project is one of 94 nationwide to receive Tribal Transportation Safety Funds. Cherokee Nation is also the only tribe in Oklahoma to be awarded TTSF for a specific project.

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