By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Road construction that will delay tens of thousands of drivers every single day is getting underway. One of the busiest and worst condition bridges on the IDL around downtown Tulsa is being replaced. It's along I-244 over First Street, leading to northbound Highway 75. It will mean drivers will have to find another way around for the next couple of months.
Construction crews are replacing just about everything on the I-244 bridge over First Street. They're dismantling the deck on the bridge down to the beams.
"They've got to totally take the deck off to get to the next phase of work," said project inspector Jason Lanik.
Some 72,000 cars travel across the bridge each day. The wear and tear has taken a toll on the aging bridge.
The bridge was actually built in 1971, it's been considered structurally deficient for quite some time. It requires a tremendous amount of maintenance just to keep it drivable. And, it just deteriorated to the point it needed to be replaced.
"It's in really bad shape so we're having to come in and completely rebuild it from the ground up," said Kenna Mitchell with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
"I would say it is a definite candidate for repair, there's significant vertical cracking through the columns," said project inspector Jason Lanik.
The columns will also be replaced.
"Basically a series of jacks that will hold up the existing beams while they remove the piers," said project inspector Jason Lanik.
The construction project means the First Street Exit off I-244, leading to downtown, is closed. ODOT says commuters to downtown will have to use another route.
"We realize of course it is an inconvenience, but we really want to make sure they have a safe bridge to travel over," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.
The project is expected to be finished by the middle of May.
The 60 day bridge replacement project has an incentive and disincentive $5,000 a day for each day it goes under or over its deadline.