Largest contract in state highway department history approved for I-235/I-44 work
The interchange between Interstate 235 and Interstate 44 in north Oklahoma City will be reconstructed as a four-level interchange as part of a $105 million contract awarded Monday by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission.
"This is an exciting project for many reasons, and by the end of construction the most important benefit to drivers will be the end of traffic bottlenecking at the I-235/I-44 interchange," said Mike Patterson, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The contract is the single largest awarded in the agency's history, topping a recently completed $88 million project that involved widening I-235 to six through lanes and two auxiliary lanes from NW 36 Street to just north of NW 50 Street in Oklahoma City.
Allen Contracting Inc. of Oklahoma City was awarded the contract. Construction is expected to begin next spring and take more than two years to complete.
The contract awarded Monday will continue efforts to widen the I-235 corridor northward, making the interstate six lanes plus acceleration/deceleration lanes between NW 50 Street and NW 63 Street.
Both contracts are part of a decades-long effort to widen I-235 to six traffic lanes all the way from Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City.
The new project will be complex, since it will require the reconstruction of the I-235/I-44 interchange and each of those two interstates carries nearly 100,000 motorists a day, Patterson said.
Eleven bridges will have to be built or reconstructed within the mile-long work zone, officials said, noting the four-level interchange will be the first such interchange on the transportation department's state highway system.
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The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has a four-level interchange involving the Kilpatrick Turnpike, State Highway 74 and Memorial Road in northwest Oklahoma City.
Patterson said the new I-235/I-44 interchange will be a major improvement.
"Adding new lanes and building the two flyover ramps to more safely move traffic between the two interstates brings this corridor up to modern standards," Patterson said.
The flyover ramps will replace the current cloverleaf ramps and are designed to move traffic more efficiently from northbound I-235 to westbound I-44 and from eastbound I-44 to northbound I-235.
The project should improve traffic flow tremendously once it is completed, but there will be some pain for motorists while it is under construction, Patterson said.
Up to four full weekend closures of I-235 and one weekend closure of I-44 at the interchange are projected to allow construction workers to remove bridges and hang beams for new bridges over I-44. No dates have yet been set for the closures, but they are expected to take place several months after construction begins in the spring, officials said.
Temporary lane closures also are expected on I-44 during some portions of the bridge work.
"Please be safe out there. Please pay attention," Patterson said. "When you go through out there in the morning, it likely will look different at night because it is going to be fast moving. Even with that, it's going to take 785 days to complete."
Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the transportation department, said her agency will be encouraging motorists to avoid the area and its reduced speed limits once construction begins. Alternate north/south routes include Interstate 35, State Highway 74/Lake Hefner Parkway and Lincoln Boulevard, she said.
Once this project is complete, there will be one final project to complete the widening of the I-235 corridor. In 2020, the westbound I-44 off ramp to northbound Broadway Extension will be reconstructed at an estimated cost of $16 million, officials said. All work on the corridor is expected to be complete by 2022.