Interstate 44

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Interstate 44 overlaps with U.S. 277 and U.S. 281 south from the Red River and Oklahoma state line. The freeway in Texas extends 15.40 miles to the Central Freeway viaduct (U.S. 287) at 6th Street in Wichita Falls. IH 44 connects Wichita Falls and Sheppard Air Force Base with the city of Burkburnett and Lawton, Oklahoma via the H.E. Bailey Turnpike.

Interstate 44 Texas Guides

City officials in Lawton and Wichita Falls long sought an extension of Interstate 44 via the tolled H.E. Bailey Turnpike southwest from Oklahoma City. The connection was desired both to benefit tourist traffic and industry and to add each city to the Interstate highway system.1 Previous proposals outlined extending I-44 south beyond Wichita Falls to Abilene. Those were requests were unsuccessful, so in 1975 Texas Highway Department, Oklahoma Department of Highways and Federal Highway Administration officials collaborated on a route south only as far as Wichita Falls. Viewed more favorably, this was also contingent upon bringing U.S. 277 up to controlled access standards by removing the at-grade intersection with Rogers Lane in north Lawton.2

Efforts to redesignate the H.E. Bailey Turnpike and U.S. 277 freeway south from Lawton into Texas as part of Interstate 44 continued into 1977. The Oklahoma Transportation Commission advertised bids on a $3.3 million interchange to replace the traffic light at U.S. 277 and Rogers Lane. Additionally construction was underway to add a second span adjacent to the two-lane bridge taking U.S. 277 across the Red River.2

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved an extension of Interstate 44 southwest into Texas on June 28, 1982. The H.E. Bailey Turnpike was posted as Interstate 44 in 1983, and Future I-44 signs were placed along U.S. 277/281 south from Oklahoma to Wichita Falls. TxDOT used non-Interstate funds to bring the short segment in Wichita County up to Interstate standards.3

Interstate 44 scenes
Central Freeway north at the entrance ramp to IH 44 eastbound from 8th Street in Wichita Falls. Photo taken 09/06/09.

Sources:

  1. "Bailey 'Pike Change Eyed by State Unit." The Lawton Constitution (OK), April 9, 1975.
  2. "Interstate Hopes Alive." The Lawton Constitution (OK), October 16, 1977.
  3. "A Triple-Duty Route!" Lubbock Evening Journal (Lubbock, TX), August 18, 1983.


Photo Credits:

09/06/09 by AARoads

Connect with:
U.S. 281
U.S. 287

Page Updated 07-09-2019.