I-244 Bridge Work Over Arkansas River To Cause Traffic Delays
The maze of cones, detour signs and concrete barricades in Tulsa is getting longer.
Drivers traveling over the Arkansas River could be bumper to bumper again as work begins on eastbound lanes of the Interstate 244 bridge.
The number of orange barrels at the southwest portion of the inner-dispersal loop will only increase over the coming months because crews will begin doing patch work. They also will start putting up detour signs for the eventual tear-down and construction of the I-244 bridge.
"I'm sure it will slow down the commute a little bit," Eric Taylor said.
The straight shot in and out of Tulsa for drivers is getting even longer. Once the prep on the IDL is finished, the eastbound lanes of the bridge will be closed.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation also is hoping that will be the case.
In less than a month, the eastbound traffic will be diverted over to the westbound lanes, more than 70,000 drivers sharing the same bridge.
"May just take a couple extra minutes, could be a little bit more during rush hours," ODOT spokesperson Kenna Carmon said.
Carmon said that's because the eastbound bridge will have to be completely torn down and rebuilt after taking a beating from drivers for more than 50 years.
"It got to the point where we were spending about a million dollars a year on maintenance work to keep these bridges operational," she said.
There are a number of ramp and lane closures to go along with this project, some of which will fluctuate from opened to closed. At U.S. Highway 75, cars will be traveling in the opposite direction once construction on the bridge begins.
"It's just one of those things you have to have to have better roads, and we definitely need better roads," Tulsan Kelly Morrison said.
Three ramps are closed, and another three will be in the future. ODOT is urging drivers to check for detours every day and to use extra caution when driving though construction zones.
"You've gotta pick your routes, because there's always construction somewhere," Taylor said.
The entire project should be completed sometime in 2015, and it will cost just over $41 million.