I-44 Bridge Holes Hurting Catoosa Businesses - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

I-44 Bridge Holes Hurting Catoosa Businesses And Giving Drivers Headaches

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The usually bustling cafe was nearly vacant on Thursday as motorists avoid the area. The usually bustling cafe was nearly vacant on Thursday as motorists avoid the area.
Customers are few and far between for the Route 66 Diner in Catoosa. Customers are few and far between for the Route 66 Diner in Catoosa.
Musician Roy Clark jokingly said he lost two tour buses to the holes on crumbling Oklahoma roads. Musician Roy Clark jokingly said he lost two tour buses to the holes on crumbling Oklahoma roads.

By Craig Day, The News On 6

CATOOSA, OK -- Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews make more progress on repairing the bridge at I-44 over 165th East Avenue. 

ODOT opened the second eastbound lane late Thursday night.  That means both eastbound lanes are now clear for traffic. 

One lane on the westbound side remains closed, but ODOT says, weather permitting, it could be reopened sometime this weekend. 

Crews are working to patch a section over 165th East Avenue where two gaping holes opened up.

ODOT engineers are double checking some of the extra support structures they've put in to reinforce the beams under the bridge. They are reminding drivers to give themselves extra time.

Everyone wants things back to normal as soon as possible – especially business owners affected by the construction.

In Oklahoma, we're used to having the orange barrel blues.

At one time or another, we've all traveled down that stretch of the interstate, even musician Roy Clark.

"I lost two tour buses on that interstate. They went into a chug hole," said world renowned musician Roy Clark with a wink.

Watch the interview with Roy Clark, click on the video link in the upper right hand corner of this story.

Since gaping holes formed in the I-44 bridge at 165th, it's been the talk of a lot of people, including truckers at the Route 66 diner like Joe Veid and Robert Bradford.

"We haul tools out of Hilti Corporation," Veid said.

"We haul glass out of the Zeledyne glass plant," Bradford said.

Lately those hauls are taking a lot longer.

"It took me about a half hour to go about two miles last night," said trucker Joe Veid.

You can see the bridge work being done right out the window of the diner. 

"It's quite entertaining," said trucker Robert Bradford.

Along with the eggs and hotcakes, the bridge is a hot topic of conversation – and the traffic.

"It's kind of a hassle," Veid said.

But the ones feeling the misery the most are the diner's owners. Since the interstate issues started, the diner lost 80 percent of its customers.

"We're not getting them, and I'm like ‘dad gum,'" said waitress Rose Points.

"It was just agony not having any business in here at all," said diner manager Jerry Rhea.

The state says the cold weather slowed the curing of the concrete. Then, extra support structures were needed.

"This place should be almost full," Points said.

Back at the diner, they'll try to keep from singing the blues while waiting on the customers who do trickle in.

They hope things get back to normal soon for everyone - whether in a car, truck, or on a tour bus.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews also put in a wooden bottom to the bridge to keep any more falling concrete from hitting cars down below. Once engineers determine that the reinforcement of the support beams worked, then they'll reopen all the lanes. 

Related Stories:
2/24/2010 ODOT Reopens One Westbound Lane Of I-44 At 161st East Avenue
2/24/2010 Keeping Track Of Bad Highway Bridges In Tulsa

 

 

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