Bridge over Arkansas River opens to I-244 westbound traffic
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2012
12/20/12 at 11:04 AM
This story originally incorrectly described the bidding schedule for the I-244 bridge. This story has been corrected.
Traffic moved across the new, multimodal Interstate 244 westbound bridge over the Arkansas River on Wednesday, relieving some of the congestion in the area since construction began early last year.
A contract to replace the eastbound bridge is planned to go out for bidding in March, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's work schedule.
As construction on the eastbound bridge begins next summer, all traffic will be moved to the new westbound bridge, ODOT officials said. But for now, all three lanes of the new bridge are open to westbound traffic.
As crews perform various tasks, westbound and eastbound traffic will move across their respective bridges in a normal fashion except where work leads to temporary lane closures, said Mark Zishka, a Tulsa-area construction engineer for ODOT.
The agency estimates that building the eastbound bridge will cost about $45 million. It cost about $78 million to construct the westbound bridge, with federal grants providing $50 million of that.
Unlike the multimodal westbound bridge, the eastbound structure will not have rail lines, Zishka said.
ODOT officials have not yet determined whether the eastbound bridge will also have a pedestrian walkway - as the westbound bridge will - or just a viewing deck, Zishka said.
The eastbound bridge is entirely funded through the federal Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, established in 2005, according to an ODOT spokesman.
The act is not related to federal stimulus funding, the official said.
However, stimulus money was used in Tulsa's Inner Dispersal Loop rehabilitation project.
The eastbound bridge project is planned to span just more than a half mile, according to ODOT's work plan.
As construction continues in the corridor, drivers should remember to watch for lane closures, ODOT spokeswoman Kenna Mitchell said.
Construction will continue for several months on the westbound bridge despite its opening to traffic, she said.
Original Print Headline: I-244 bridge over river opens to westbound traffic
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367
The new Interstate 244 bridge (top) is now carrying westbound traffic over the Arkansas River. JAMES GIBBARD/ Tulsa World