Dan Bewley, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is set to begin another project on Interstate 44 in Tulsa. Crews will start widening a half-mile section of the highway on Monday – this time, between 41st Street and the Broken Arrow interchange.
More than 90,000 vehicles drive the section of I-44 from 41st Street to the B.A. everyday. It's a half-mile stretch of interstate that's scheduled to get a makeover beginning Monday morning.
The project will include widening the highway from four lanes to six lanes, and work on one of the more visible parts of it has already begun. ODOT is moving the off ramp to 41st Street from the east side to the west side.
The current off-ramp is too close to the Broken Arrow Expressway, and ODOT says it often causes a delay for traffic getting on to I-44. The new off-ramp will curl around to 41st Street.
"It will take traffic along a route up to near Hudson Avenue on 41st. So it's an entirely different location than what drivers are used to as far as that exit ramp, but it'll be a major improvement for their safety," said Kenna Mitchell, ODOT spokesperson.
This widening project including the switching of the 41st Street off ramp is expected to take about an year and will cost ODOT $12 million.
8/10/2010 Related Story: Tulsa's I-44 at Darlington Bridge Construction Changes
Monday's project will join the $360 million dollar widening of I-44 from Riverside to Yale. ODOT says that project is on track to finish in 2013. Crews will soon be improving the interchanges at both Riverside and Peoria and removing the old bridges that cross over Harvard.
ODOT says I-44 is long overdue for an upgrade. The highway was built before the interstate system was created and meant to be a byway through what was then the southern edge of Tulsa.
"The exit ramps, the entrance ramps are all inadequate," Mitchell said. "We've got structurally deficient bridges. The roadway itself is very curvy in areas. It's just not up to state standards, and we consider it to be one of the dangerous sections of interstate in Oklahoma."
ODOT wants drivers to be aware of construction workers and expect delays beginning Monday. They also want you to know that this stretch of Skelly Drive from Yale to 41st will be down to one lane.