ODOT prepares for massive construction project at the I-235/I-44 interchange

This rendering shows the four-level interchange slated for construction at I-44 and I-235. (ODOT)

One of the busiest highways in the metro will soon be under construction again. This month, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation awarded a $105 million contract to widen and reconstruct the I-235/I-44 interchange.

All lanes of I-235 opened in early November after work to widen the highway between I-44 and N. 36th St.

"We’re glad that the completion of the last phase was early, to allow drivers to have a few months of being able to enjoy the I-235 expanded lanes through the holidays," said Terri Angier, spokeswoman for ODOT.

She warned drivers not to get too comfortable taking I-235 in that area. The next phase of construction is slated to begin in April.

"It probably will disrupt traffic more than any other phase, since it’s going right through the lanes of I-235 over the I-44 interchange," said Angier.

Eleven bridges must be built or reconstructed in order to widen the interchange. Crews will add new lands and build two flyover ramps. ODOT says the four-level interchange will move traffic in a more efficient, safer manner between the two highways.

Construction will cause temporary closures of lanes and ramps on both I-44 and I-235 during different phases of construction.

"Right now it feels very squeezed," Angier said. "It will feel even more squeezed when we put cones and barrels on the sides of the lanes we’re driving on and reduce speeds."

When the project is ultimately completed, it is expected to ease congestion on these busy highways.

"It will be a great facility and it will really meet the demands of what the traffic volumes are today," said Angier.

ODOT says commuters should start preparing now to take alternate routes when construction begins in April. I-35, Lake Hefner Parkway, and N. Lincoln Blvd. are all good options. Construction on this phase of the project is estimated to last two and a half years. There are $2 million worth of incentives for the contractor to finish early.

Additional project highlights from ODOT:

  • The newest phase of the I-235 corridor widening and reconstruction is a record-breaker, coming in as the single largest dollar amount contract in state history at up to $105 million.
  • The Oklahoma Transportation Commission awarded the contract in December to Allen Contracting Inc. of Oklahoma City.
  • I-235 will be widened to six lanes plus auxiliary lanes between N. 50th St. and N.W. 63rd St. as part of an overall corridor widening plan that ultimately will provide six lanes of traffic on I-235 between Edmond and downtown Oklahoma City.
  • Motorists can expect northbound and southbound I-235 to generally remain open to two lanes of traffic during peak commute hours, but there will be night-time and weekend lane closures at varying times.
  • There are up to five full weekend closures in the schedule to allow for bridge removals and hanging new bridge beams.
  • There are 11 bridges within this project, which includes building two new flyover ramps to move traffic more efficiently from northbound I-235 to westbound I-44 and from eastbound I-44 to northbound I-235.
  • Once the flyover ramps are constructed, the two cloverleaf ramps for those movements will be eliminated. The cloverleaf ramps for westbound I-44 on-ramp to southbound I-235 and southbound I-235 off-ramp to eastbound I-44 will widened and reconstructed. These ramps will have an up to 10-day closure later in the project.
  • Additionally, motorists can expect an up to 45-day closure of the northbound I-235 off-ramp to N.W. 63rd St. to construct new access at this location.
  • The northbound I-235 off-ramp to N. 50th St. also will close for the contractor to complete the new connection to N. 50th St., which includes modifying the intersection of N. 50th St. and Santa Fe Ave. The northbound I-235 on-ramp from N. 50th St. is permanently closed to make room for the eastbound I-44 flyover ramp to northbound US-77/Broadway Ext.
  • Motorists should begin preparing their Off Broadway alternate routes for construction to begin in spring 2019. Those routes include I-35, SH-74/Lake Hefner Parkway, I-44, Martin Luther King/Eastern Ave. and N. Lincoln Blvd.

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