Lewis Avenue bridge closure has major impact on Tulsa traffic
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
10/02/12 at 7:43 AM
Closing the Lewis Avenue bridge at Interstate 44 isn't all bad, one business administrator on the south side of Monday's closure said.
"We think that it may be easier to get out (of the parking lot) and go south," said Elizabeth Snider, executive director of the Homelife Association. "We don't think there will be many people going on Lewis."
The final phase of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's I-44 expansion began Monday, closing down a major thoroughfare in the middle of the city until the end of next year.
The project will expand and shift lanes of I-44 through a new underpass under Lewis Avenue south of its current location.
Despite any silver lining, ODOT officials are warning drivers that the project's final phase will have the greatest impact on traffic yet.
"It's not really going to affect our business," Snider said. "Probably just more of a nuisance issue of having to go a slightly different way than you were planning to go."
Mary Maroutsos, a 19-year employee at Goldie's Patio Grill, said she expects a little impact on business, but the regulars will continue to come despite a detour.
"They said they'd come anyway," Maroutsos said. One regular told her, "I may have to drive four extra miles, but I'm coming," she said.
The project closes the bridge portion of Lewis Avenue across I-44, detouring drivers to access roads on either side of the bridge to Harvard Avenue or Peoria Avenue to cross the interstate, officials said.
The intersections on either side of the closed bridge will remain open for drivers, though the southside access road from Peoria Avenue east to Lewis Avenue will be narrowed to one lane near the I-44 off-ramp on Thursday, according to ODOT reports. Approaching Lewis Avenue on the access road south of I-44, drivers will have to stop and yield to the I-44 off-ramp, which will also be narrowed to one lane on Thursday.
Eastbound and westbound traffic on 51st Street will also be narrowed to one lane just east of Lewis Avenue for several blocks, ODOT officials said.
Kenna Mitchell, ODOT spokeswoman, said drivers should plan ahead for the delays and allow for extra time to get where they are going.
ODOT's Interstate 44 expansion
Phase 1: I-44/Perryman Ditch
Date started: Jan. 19, 2009
Estimated time to complete at beginning: 25 months
Actual completion time: Oct. 26, 2010 - 21 months
About: The Perryman Ditch project constructed massive drainage structure near Riverside Drive; $42 million.
Phase 2: I-44 at Harvard
Date started: Jan. 11, 2010
Estimated time to complete at beginning: 23 months
Actual completion time: June 17, 2012 - 29 months
About: Harvard Avenue corridor expanded highway, built retaining walls; $48 million.
Phase 3: I-44 at Peoria/Riverside
Date started: March 1, 2011
Estimated time to complete at beginning: about 24 months
Actual completion time: not yet complete
About: Peoria Avenue to Riverside Drive corridor expanded, build retaining walls; $40 million.
Phase 4: I-44 at Lewis Avenue
Date started: Monday
Estimated time to complete: about 20 months
About: Expand and shift lanes from existing I-44 corridor to the south, deconstruct old Lewis Avenue bridge and construct new bridge; $50 million.
Note: ODOT officials said the expansion project phases often allow traffic well before the project is complete as contractors finish non-traffic related parts of the project.
Original Print Headline: Closure changes traffic
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367
A view looking north shows the barricades blocking both directions of traffic on the south side of the I-44 overpass on Lewis Avenue in Tulsa on the first day of the street closing for highway construction Monday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Barricades block both directions of traffic on the south side of the I-44 overpass on Lewis Avenue in Tulsa on the first day of the street closing for highway construction Monday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World