Drivers headed to the airport, downtown and across the Arkansas River bridge in Bixby should expect orange barrels and delays with three major construction projects beginning in early January.
“If you’re trying to get to downtown or the airport, you’re going to have to plan for extra time,” Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kenna Mitchell said.
“People are going to have to get back to planning some extra time and planning their routes.”
The projects are:
• $9 million to improve eight bridges on Oklahoma 11 south of Tulsa International Airport. They include bridges at the Interstate 244 junction, Pine Street, Memorial Drive and over a nearby railroad line.
Drivers trying to get to the airport “are urged to plan ahead for extra travel time throughout the project,” which will begin Jan. 7 and last until early 2020, ODOT said in a news release.
Detours to the main entrance to the airport will be in place during part of the project, ODOT said.
Crews will be working on multiple bridges in the area at the same time, Mitchell said.
“We’ve had to do emergency repairs ... so this is work that’s definitely needed on these bridges,” she said.
• $25 million to reconstruct all pavement on the south leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop downtown and rehabilitate bridges on both the south and east legs of the IDL.
The southbound lanes on the east side of the IDL and the westbound lanes on the south side of the loop will be closed Jan. 2. Traffic will be detoured to other legs of the IDL during the project, which also is expected to last until early 2020, weather permitting.
Traffic switches are expected later in the project in which the opposite directions of the east and south sides of the IDL will be closed, ODOT said.
“Significant delays can be expected on all downtown highway corridors, especially during peak travel times,” ODOT said.
Bridges to be rehabilitated in the project include the eastbound I-244 ramp to northbound U.S. 75/eastbound Broken Arrow expressway, Houston Street on the south side of the loop, and the Sixth and 11th street bridges on the east side.
“The pavement on the south side of the IDL — that’s one of the top complaints we get from drivers. We’ve patched and patched and patched, but there comes a time where we just need to replace all of the pavement,” Mitchell said.
• $1.2 million to improve the Memorial Drive/U.S. 64 Arkansas River Bridge in Bixby.
Northbound and southbound traffic will be down to one lane during the project, set to begin in early January and last three months, the city of Bixby said on its Facebook page.
A tentative start date for that project is Jan. 2, Mitchell said.
Lanes on one side of the bridge will be closed and traffic will be diverted to one lane in each direction on the other side during the project, the city said.
The bridge is the only crossing over the Arkansas River in Bixby, and officials for years have been trying to find a way to build another, citing extended travel times for emergency vehicles and traffic congestion.
“Another bridge into Bixby is a top priority for not only the City of Bixby but for all our residents and businesses. The City continues to meet with regional stakeholders to identify alignment and financing alternatives,” the city said in the Facebook post.
Mitchell said the Bixby project will cause delays, especially during peak commute times.
An average of 51,000 vehicles per day travel on the east and south legs of the IDL; 36,800-40,100 vehicles per day travel on Oklahoma 11 near I-244; and 28,200 vehicles per day travel on the Arkansas River bridge in Bixby, according to 2017 ODOT traffic counts, the most recent available.