UKB Campus undergoing road construction projects
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
TAHLEQUAH – Visitors to the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians grounds will be greeted with a variety of construction projects taking place on the campus until at least November of this year.
A new road around the Keetoowah Loop and new parking lots for both the John Hair Cultural Center and Museum and the Henry Lee Doublehead Child Development Center are currently underway.
Handling the projects is the UKB Transit and Roads department.
“This has been a long process for us,” said Toni Workman, Transit and Roads director. “Not just saving up the money, but we were actually supposed to start construction last year on it. Things came up with our environmentals, so that was a year’s worth of stuff just trying to get it started.”
Funds for the project come from the tribe’s Self-Governance money, according to Workman.
“We’ve been saving up since 2012 to have enough money to build this road,” she said. “The road is going to cost around $1.4 million. We have compiled about $1.6 million just to cover any incidentals.”
Workman also noted that construction is moving along rapidly.
“We started on July 8 and we’ve come quite a long ways in just a short amount of time. In the contract we have it set for an end date of February 2, 2020, but they’re shooting for the end of November, before Thanksgiving,” she said.
As part of the project, the gravel road connecting the loop will be moved over and wrap around the grounds to connect with the current paved road by the UKB Wellness Center.
“It’s going to wrap around and basically provide better access to our Celebration grounds,” explained Workman. “They’re going to have a handicap parking lot up by the pavilion and they’re also going to put in sidewalks to the pavilion.”
The current gravel road will be dug up and covered once more.
“They’re going to dig up the old road and put dirt down. The reason we didn’t follow that road is because all of our utilities run underneath that road. It would have been a huge cost to relocate them when it would just be easier to move the road over. We’re ready to get it finished and move on to the next project.”