New I-244 bridge awaits traffic tonight
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
12/19/12 at 7:31 AM
The new westbound Interstate 244 bridge over the Arkansas River will open to traffic Wednesday night, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
Crews will begin moving westbound I-244 traffic off the detour route and onto the new multimodal bridge over the Arkansas River south of downtown Tulsa.
Mark Zishka, an ODOT Tulsa-area construction engineer, said that while the new westbound bridge will open to traffic this week, the full project is not scheduled to be finished for several months.
Drivers can expect various lane closures on both eastbound and westbound I-244 in the area around the river from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. After that time, all three lanes of westbound I-244 are expected be open, and eastbound I-244 will continue to have two open lanes until further notice, according to ODOT.
Workers have tried hard to get the new bridge open by the holidays, Zishka said.
About 68,000 vehicles crossed the old westbound bridge every day, according to ODOT data.
Below the traffic lanes, the bridge will support two rail lines and a pedestrian bridge.
Zishka said traffic will run normally for several months on the new westbound and old eastbound bridges, aside from lane closures as crews finish work on the bridge.
In March, ODOT will solicit bids for the replacement of the eastbound bridge, Zishka said.
Construction on that bridge is planned to start several months later, and traffic will be diverted onto the new westbound bridge, he said.
The eastbound bridge may have a pedestrian walkway similar to the westbound bridge's or possibly a viewing station, Zishka said.
The bridges are nearly 3,300 feet long, and the entire project workzone stretches for about a mile.
I-244 westbound Arkansas River bridge
Start date: April 2011
Completion date: mid-2013
Cost: $78 million
Federal funding grants: $50 million
The multimodal bridge, once completed, will include three through lanes of vehicular traffic on westbound Interstate 244 over the Arkansas River. Below the lanes, the bridge will also support two rail lines and a pedestrian bridge.
The project is the second-largest ever awarded by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
About 68,000 vehicles crossed the former westbound bridge daily.
Overall, the bridge will hold 19,000 cubic yards of concrete and 14 million pounds of steel.
Original Print Headline: New I-244 bridge awaits traffic tonight
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367
Traffic passes over the current Arkansas River Interstate 244 bridge as work crews finish up work on the new westbound bridge (top), which is due to open to traffic Wednesday night. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World