Starting Wednesday night, ODOT crews will begin moving westbound I-244 traffic off the detour route and onto the new multi-modal bridge over the Arkansas River south of downtown Tulsa.
Drivers can expect various lane closures on east and westbound I-244 in this corridor from Wednesday to Thursday. After Thursday, westbound I-244 is expected to have three open lanes, and eastbound I-244 will continue to have two open lanes until further notice. Drivers are urged to use extreme caution as traffic adjusts to these changes.
"I'm excited," said driver John Lackey who drives to downtown from Jenks five times a week for work. "I’m especially excited that the on ramps are open so you don’t have to go through the Brady District just to get on the highway."
"It’s always a pain to get to highway 75," said driver Kelly Carney. "I'm excited I hope everything flows better and faster."
The following ramp closures will remain in place until further notice:
· Westbound US-64/SH-51 off-ramp to eastbound I-244/westbound US-64/SH-51 (south to west leg IDL)
· Southbound US-75/westbound US-64/SH-51 ramp to westbound I-244/southbound US-75
· Eastbound I-244 on-ramp from 17th St., and various lane closures on 17th St.
· Westbound I-244 on-ramp from 7th St.
Even though traffic is shifted to the new bridge the overall westbound I-244 project is not yet complete. ODOT urges drivers to remain alert to crews, equipment and reduced speeds on both the east and westbound bridges in this corridor.
Work will continue through mid-2013 on the westbound bridge, which includes two dedicated future rail lines and an area for bicycle and pedestrian traffic on the lower level.
The total bid on this project was $78 million, nearly $50 million of which came from a federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant. The I-244 multi-modal bridge was considered one of the top projects in the country to receive this funding in 2010. The existing eastbound bridge is scheduled for replacement in 2013.
ODOT engineer, Mark Zishka said driver need to pay close attention during this time of transition.
"This is one of the most hazardous times in a project because you got to switch traffic from old to new. Traffic needs to be alert when coming through the project because they may be going a different direction than they thought they were going. Things are going to be different; ramps are going to be opening up you just can’t assume anything anymore."
Lane and ramp closures are posted daily in the Traffic Advisories section ofwww.okladot.state.ok.us.