OKLAHOMA CITY -- A major phase of the ongoing construction project at the state's largest interstate work zone will begin later this month.
The two-year project, set to begin March 25, will primarily impact northbound and southbound I-235 between N. 50th St. and N. 63rd St.; however, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says the interstate will remain open to two lanes of traffic in each direction majority of the time.
"It’s probably going to be the most disruptive [phase] because we normally work from the outside of an interchange and work our way into the interchange, so this is going to be right in the heart in the interchange over I-44 on I-235 where two major interstates intersect," Terri Angier with ODOT said. "Each of these interstates carry over about 100,000 cars a day so it’s a major, major project for us."
One of those drivers is Arthur Weschler. He lives in Dallas but is on the road frequently for work.
"As a traveling salesman, yes. I run into this all over Texas and Oklahoma. I prefer they do the construction at night when there’s less traffic. During the day, it becomes a major nuisance," Weschler said. "You can’t say it enough, you just got to be patient going through the construction."
In total, the project includes 11 new bridges with two flyover bridges to be built during this next phase.
"It’s going to look much like the ones we see in Dallas or other major metropolitan areas and it’s going to have two very long flyover bridges that tie over the ramp," Angier said. "It’s almost hard to imagine what it will look like, because we’ve never had one like this in the state but we are very excited that it will move traffic more than anything, a lot more smoothly than it does today."
ODOT is encouraging motorists to start planning now for the following traffic impacts later in the project:
- Up to four full weekend closures of I-235 to remove and hang bridge beams;
- One weekend closure of I-44 for bridge beams;
- A nearly two-month closure of the northbound I-235 off-ramp to N. 63rd St.;
- Closure of the northbound I-235 off-ramp to N. 50th St. to complete the ramp widening;
- Intermittent lane closures of N. 50th St. and Santa Fe Ave. for intersection modification; and
- An up to two week closure of the southbound I-235/US-77 off-ramp to eastbound I-44 and the westbound I-44 on-ramp to southbound I-235 while these two clover leaf ramps are widened and improved.
The seventh phase is going to cost about $105 million, according to ODOT. In project in total, represents a nearly $300 million investment in highway infrastructure.
Once it is done, there is another piece of work.
"What it will do is connect Lincoln Boulevard directly to northbound broadway extension," Angier said. "Right now, the only way is to get on I-44 and make a couple of jogs before you can get to Broadway extension north."
ODOT is recommending drivers stay off Broadway during the construction and use alternative routes including I-35, SH-74/Lake Hefner Parkway, I-44, I-40 and Lincoln Blvd.
For more information about the project, click here.