Tulsa Bridge Replacement Work Begins At I-44 Near 161st East Avenue
By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Another construction project could mean traffic trouble for commuters.
Monday, crews began work on replacing two bridges at I-44 that cross over 165th East Avenue, near the 161st East Avenue junction.
The work is been on the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's to-do list for a long time.
The two bridges were built in 1958. Over the next year, they will be replaced by one larger bridge that will be able to accommodate up to eight lanes of traffic.
It's a project ODOT says is long overdue.
"Really not pretty to look at right now. We've got some areas where concrete is crumbling off the bridge," said Kenna Mitchell, ODOT spokesperson.
To protect drivers, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation was forced to use some band-aids on the bridges while waiting for funding. There's a tarp and some wire mesh on the bridge to prevent pieces of debris from falling on cars passing beneath it. So while ODOT says the bridge is technically safe, it has been deemed structurally deficient.
"While it is an inconvenience and can be a headache at times, in the long run we are really fortunate to have the funding we do to tackle some of these much needed projects," said Mitchell.
Part of the inconvenience will likely include the further slowing of traffic on I-44. But the contractor is required to keep two lanes open on both eastbound and westbound I-44 from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. during the week.
Officials say the hassle will be worth it in the long run.
"This is a headache. People are probably sick of looking at the orange barrels by now. But again, it's money being put to good use. A lot of good being done on the roadways, and we'll get done as quickly as we can on these projects," said Mitchell.
The project will cost $7 million.
ODOT says most of the work will be done during the night and on weekends between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.