By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A $44 million project hopes to take the dysfunction out of dysfunction junction. That's an area east of Tulsa where I-44 meets 193rd East Avenue.
If you've driven by that area lately, you'll notice plenty of activity at the construction site, and you may have noticed something else that is catching the eye of some people.
The widening project along Interstate 44 got started with a bang -- literally, as construction crews have had to use explosives and specially designed tools to bust through layers of limestone along the highway. Despite the challenge, engineers say things are progressing well.
"We've had some delays with all the rain, but Becco is working really hard to catch back up and get back on track," said Joe Frederick, ODOT engineer.
ODOT will eventually replace the interstate bridges and widen I-44 from four to eight lanes. 193rd will be widened to six lanes.
But first thing is first. Right now, crews are clearing the way for a diversion road that when finished will take traffic off the eastbound lanes.
"We have to divert the eastbound traffic around the existing I-44 so we can work on it," said Joe Frederick.
To build the diversion road, crews have had to dig down through the limestone and all that rock has ended up in giant piles along the highway. It amounts to 200 truckloads a day for the past 40 days, 30,000 cubic feet. If you took a football field and dug down 18 feet, that's enough rock to fill it back up again.
Those piles will get even higher in the coming weeks as more excavation work is done. But, once the diversion road isn't needed?
"We'll take that diversion out and put all that rock back in the ground," said Joe Frederick.
That diversion road will be opened in about a month and then work will begin on the existing eastbound interstate lanes. Overall, the entire project is expected to take about 21 months to finish.