The final phase of a decade-old Interstate 44 widening project on the east edge of Tulsa is underway in earnest, with crews moving large amounts of dirt.

“We’ve heard since the project started that people are excited about it because it’s that last little piece” of I-44 widening between the Interstate 244 split and Catoosa, said Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kenna Mitchell.

Work on I-44 widening and bridge replacement in the area has been ongoing since 2009.

The current $20 million project will widen the existing four-lane segment between 145th East Avenue and 177th East Avenue to eight lanes and improve an interchange.

“A lot of the work you see going on there now is taking place outside of the driving lanes, and it involves moving earth for some of the drainage structures,” along with embankments near the interchange ramps, Mitchell said.

Two lanes of I-44 in each direction are expected to remain open in the work zone during peak travel times, although drivers should plan for reduced speeds in the corridor, ODOT said.

Mitchell said motorists should exercise caution while driving through the area, especially during morning and evening rush hours.

“If it’s going to be one of those rush-hour times, there’s always that chance that accidents will happen because people aren’t slowing down,” she said.

“It’s a good reminder for drivers, again, to reduce speeds,” Mitchell said. “Slow down and give your full attention.”

The project will cover about a two-mile section of I-44 and, when completed, and will mark the end of an overall expansion that began 10 years ago.

Work is expected to be completed in late summer 2020, weather permitting.

The current project will tie into previous widening work on I-44 between the Interstate 244 split and 145th East Avenue and near 177th East Avenue.

The bridges at 165th East Avenue were replaced in 2010 due to their deteriorated condition. Improvements to the interchange will be made as part of the current project.

About 66,100 vehicles per day travel in the affected I-44 area, according to 2018 ODOT traffic counts.

Drivers can sign up for daily traffic advisories at odot.org by clicking on the “Sign Up For News & Alerts” link on the main page of this website and selecting the Tulsa Metro option.


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Michael Dekker

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