By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A massive rebuilding project around downtown Tulsa starts Monday.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the $67 million project will take nearly two years to finish.
About 62,000 vehicles use the Inner Dispersal Loop every day. But come Monday those drivers will need to be aware of the largest project ever conducted by ODOT.
The first phase is surface repairs on the east and south legs. It's expected to be finished by mid-July.
It's the next step when the big work begins.
"The north and west legs of the IDL will be completely rebuilt," ODOT project manager Jennifer Tyler said.
That means lots of detours and delays.
To help with that, ODOT will use its Smart Workzone system to warn motorists. Thirty-eight message boards will alert drivers to traffic speeds, delays or even stops.
"When it goes into congestion mode it will actually display 'be prepared to stop,' ‘use extreme caution,' ‘work zone ahead,' ‘two minutes to end of workzone,' ‘average speed is 48,' ‘average speed 43 mph,' whatever the average speed is," said Nathan Bullard, ODOT project manager.
ODOT says drivers will not be able to use the north or west legs of the IDL once work begins on the second phase in July.
"We are detouring traffic around westbound I-244 on to the south and east legs of the IDL," Tyler said. "That will be the only way to get around downtown Tulsa."
While the project isn't expected to be finished until early 2011, there is an incentive to get the work done early. The contractor could earn $15,000 a day for every day it's done ahead of schedule.
ODOT admits it might be frustrating for drivers but they say the finished project should be worth it.
"We ask that motorists be patient with us, that we're trying to do a great job, and we're excited about this project and we can't wait to complete it," Tyler said.
The project is being paid using stimulus money.
If you're driving on the IDL during construction, ODOT warns to plan for extra time.