OKLAHOMA CITY - Friday morning may have felt like Christmas morning for many Oklahoma City drivers. It wasn't open presents that gave them joy though; it was open lanes.
All lanes of I-235 are now open between I-44 and Northwest 36th street, but the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said drivers should savor the moment.
"I know going 35 miles per hour on the interstate system seems unusual, and they did that, and they kept us safe and we want to thank them for that," said ODOT spokesperson Terri Angier.
For about 22 months, drivers dealt with slow-going traffic in one of the busiest spots in the metro as crews widened roadways, worked on bridges and ramps and addressed flooding problems.
Angier said, despite all the challenges and unknowns they faced, the project exceeded expectations.
"The fact that it happened about a year earlier than our original estimates of course makes us very happy," she said.
As we head into the holiday season, drivers can expect little to no delays in the area as the only work left to be done is aesthetics.
However, Angier said to savor the moment.
"So, we want them to enjoy this over the holidays but, then, again, gear up for our next project coming up in the spring of 2019," she said.
It's also a combined project estimated at about $80,000,000. It picks up just north of where the off Broadway project left off, starting around N.W. 50th and going north to 63rd Street.
"People would probably consider it the most significant part of the project," Angier said.
It's significant indeed as parts of I-235, the Broadway Extension and the I-44 lanes and ramps will be worked on.
However, Angier said the inconvenience is necessary to deal with years of under-funding.
"We knew that we would have a lot of this catch-up to do, and this is one of those catch-up projects," she said.
In total, there's three phases left of the project, with the final phase expected to begin in 2020.