Future Plans For Oklahoma's Highways

Tuesday, February 6th 2007, 10:28 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Rebuilding Interstate 40 through downtown Oklahoma City and a project on Interstate 44 in Tulsa will eat up a good chunk of a $3.7 billion highway plan, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says.

The 8-year construction plan unveiled Tuesday also includes installing median barriers on multi-lane highways to prevent crossover collisions and upgrading rural interstate highways, officials said.

``Interstates are our lifeblood, and we're going to keep them healthy,' Transportation Director Gary Ridley told the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. The plan reflects construction costs that have risen 35 percent to 45 percent over the past few years, Ridley said.

The program is based on estimates of how much money will be available, including close to $500 million a year from the federal government, $200 million annually from the gasoline tax and the rest from state appropriations that eventually will hit $470 million a year.

Completion of the new Crosstown Expressway, or I-40, in downtown Oklahoma City is expected in about five years, officials said. Once open, the old Crosstown Expressway will be torn down and a boulevard will be built. Initial estimates for that project have ballooned from around $360 million to about $557 million, officials said.

Work on I-44 from Riverside to Yale and U.S. Highway 412 in Tulsa should be done within five years, costing about $363 million, officials said.

Other projects include finishing work on I-35 between Moore and Norman, along with interchanges at Main and Lindsey streets and State Highway 9 in Norman. Officials expect that project's cost to top out at $100 million.

Another project would add shoulders to more than 400 miles of two-lane highways in Oklahoma, while another involves placing 240 miles of median barriers on high-traffic routes.

In Oklahoma City, about $300 million is needed to rebuild the Broadway Extension, or U.S. Highway 77, from N.W. 36th Street to Memorial Road for about $150 million.