Drainage Project Anchors Road Widening

The first construction phase of the Interstate 44 widening project between Riverside Drive and Yale Avenue is a mile-long drainage “ditch” that, once complete, will be a better driving surface than the one thousands of motorists travel today.
But no one will ever see it. It will be buried three stories below the frontage road north of the current highway.
Work on the $46 million underground drainage structure and frontage road project — one of the biggest and among the most expensive projects by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation — began early this year.
“This is the keystone of the project,” said Matthew Casillas, Division VIII engineer.
The phase, to construct a 1.25 mile long concrete drainage structure 30 feet underground in the Perryman Ditch area, is set to take nearly two years.
Incentives for Sherwood Construction Co. Inc. are in place to expedite the work of the 23 month-long project.
“We are already ahead of schedule,” Casillas said. “Originally, the water and sewer lines were scheduled to be done in segments, but Sherwood went ahead and took care of all the water and sewer lines — all the way to Yorktown,” he said.
The Perryman drainage area extends along the north side of I-44 from the Arkansas River to just west of Yorktown Avenue. This drainage structure, which will be wide enough for three semi-tractor-trailers to drive, will become the drainage structure for the entire Riverside Drive to Yale Avenue corridor — a distance of three miles and including both sides of the interstate.
It must be started before any widening work on I-44 can begin, Casillas said.
“This has been talked about for years,” Casillas said.
The amount of material going into the is staggering. Sherwood will be pouring 34,570 cubic yards of concrete. Put another way, the is enough concrete to fill the 3,500 concrete mixer trucks, said Kenna Mitchell, ODOT Public Information Manager.
The concrete would pave a 24-foot wide road, 10 inches thick, for 9 miles.
The project is using 5.7 million pounds of steel, or 2,850 tons. For reference, 4,000 tons of steel went into the construction of the BOK Center.
Sherwood is excavating 400,000 cubic yards of soil. That is enough to fill 40,000 dump trucks.
The Tulsa metro has 1,028 highway lane miles and none is as important as the I-44 corridor. And, for motorists driving through Tulsa, the project at the Arkansas River is like one-half of a pair of bookends. On the east side, at 193rd East Avenue, another major undertaking begins as crews start moving utilities at the famously congested intersection of I-44 and 193rd East Avenue.
ODOT reports that, daily, 68,000 cars pass by on I-44. Of those, 14,000 drivers use the 193rd on and off ramps, making the interchange one of the state’s busiest intersections.
Overall Project
Considered one of the most important highway expansions in Tulsa’s history, the overall $330 million I-44 widening includes expanding traffic lanes from four to six between Riverside Drive and Yale Avenue, replacing bridges and improving on and off ramps at Harvard Avenue, Lewis Avenue, Peoria Avenue and Riverside Drive intersections, said Mitchell.
The $43 million, 1.2 -mile widening project from Riverside to Wheeling Avenue, includes the interchanges at Riverside and Peoria Avenue and is expected to start about a year from now.
The 0.83-mile Lewis Avenue Project, from Wheeling Avenue to Columbia Place includes a new overpass at Lewis Avenue.
That $35 million project is expected to begin in 2011.
The $48 million Harvard Avenue Project will be the 1.5 miles from Columbia place to Urbana Avenue. The six-lane construction includes the new interchange at Harvard and is expected to begin during the fourth quarter this year or early 2010.
The $48 million phase three, to rebuild the Riverside Drive and Peoria Avenue interchanges, begins in 2010.
The overall project is expected to be complete by late 2012.

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