'Disruptive' I-235 project to begin in OKC
The honeymoon is about over for Interstate 235 commuters who have been enjoying a five-month respite from construction on the main thoroughfare that links Edmond and Oklahoma City.
Starting Monday, construction crews will begin work on a project to remake the I-235/I-44 interchange.
Use of alternate routes throughout the two-year construction period is highly recommended, said Terri Angier, state Transportation Department spokeswoman.
The project, dubbed "Off Broadway" by state transportation officials, is part of a more than decadelong modernization effort to widen I-235/Broadway Extension up to eight lanes from Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City.
“This is likely to be the most disruptive to traffic of any other project in the state,” Angier said. “The project will eliminate the last remaining bottleneck for traffic by widening I-235 over I-44 and it will be the first four-level interchange built on the state highway system in Oklahoma.”
The project will require crews to establish a nearly two-mile work zone on I-235 to allow construction to take place on the one-mile stretch between NW 50 Street and NW 63 Street. Efforts will be made to allow two lanes of traffic to remain open in each direction the majority of the time, but motorists can expect lane shifts, intermittent ramp closures and some night-time lane closures, especially early on in the project, officials said.
At some point, officials anticipate I-235 may have to be closed for up to four full weekends and I-44 may have to be closed for a weekend to remove and hang bridge beams.
Nearly 100,000 vehicles a day travel on both I-235 and I-44 through the area, so significant traffic congestion is expected.
Alternate north-south route possibilities include Interstate 35, Interstate 40, North Lincoln Boulevard, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Eastern Avenue and State Highway 74/Lake Hefner Parkway, officials said.
The $105 million interchange project was awarded to Allen Contracting Inc. of Oklahoma City. It is the single largest project awarded in the state Transportation Department's history, topping the 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.
The new interchange project will be complex, involving the building or reconstruction of 11 bridges, including the construction of two new flyover ramps that 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 flyover ramps, the tallest of which will be 70 feet in height, will replace the current cloverleaf ramps. Similar flyover ramps can be seen at the interchange involving the Kilpatrick Turnpike, State Highway 74 and Memorial Road in northwest Oklahoma City.
This is the combined fifth and sixth phases of the overall plan to widen I-235 to eight lanes from Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City. A seventh and final phase is scheduled to be bid in 2020. The final $16 million project will involve reconstructing the westbound I-44 to northbound Broadway Extension ramp, which will provide a direct connection from Lincoln Boulevard to the Broadway Extension and also NW 63 Street.
I-44 motorists will experience traffic disruptions not only from the interchange project, but also from a couple of other projects that will begin within the next few months, so this is a good time to avoid that interstate stretch, as well, Angier said.
Starting in mid-April and continuing through the fall, crews will be doing rehabilitation work on I-44 bridges over Deep Fork Creek between I-235 and Western Avenue. Major lane and ramp closures can be expected during the $6 million project, which is being done by Sherwood Construction of Tulsa.
Sometime within the next 45 days, crews also are expected to begin work on a project to replace and seal joints on the I-44 bridge over Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. One lane in each direction will be closed while work on the $410,000 project is in progress.