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I-35 construction to close Flood bridge

I-35 construction to close Flood bridge

This article first appeared in the Norman Transcript

By Tom Blakey

March 22, 2009 01:41 am

— As part of the $40 million project to widen Interstate 35 from four lanes to six lanes from north of Main Street to Indian Hills Road, the bridge from I-35 to North Flood Avenue will be closing to southbound traffic by April 1, according to transportation officials.

"I-35 is six lanes already north of Indian Hills, and we'll be extending those six lanes 4.6 miles to north of Main Street, adding the fifth and six lanes, from two lanes north and south to three lanes north and south," said David Meuser, public information officer for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

"We'll also be changing the barrier between the I-35 north- and southbound lanes from cable to concrete, and adding lighting. As part of that, there's not enough room underneath the (North Flood) bridge to add those lanes and lights, so we'll be replacing that bridge, which was built in 1951. At the time it was built to accomodate 25,000 to 30,000 people a day driving underneath on I-35, and the interstate is now carrying 75,000.

"So we're not having to change the location of the US 77 bridge but will need to make the space underneath the bridge higher and taller," Meuser said.

Department of Transportation officials will not need to change the location of the US 77 bridge, but will "soften the curves" on I-35 instead, he said.

Contractor Haskell Lemon had planned to close the entire interchange but as the project has progressed, the "contractor thinks he can widen the bridge without affecting the northbound traffic over the bridge," Meuser said. "While dismantling the bridge, there will have to be some lane closures, but they will be at night and one lane will remain open, so that northbound traffic can continue to access I-35 from North Flood."

During peak times during the day, both northbound lanes and both south bounds lanes will be open, he said.

The contract calls for the work to be completed in 120 days, in time to have the bridge open for the fall school term, Meuser said.
Meanwhile, serendipitously, the estimated completion date for the $7.2 million Tecumseh Road project between Sooner and Sunnylane roads is set for April 6.

"Tecumseh Road is expected to be open the first week of April, possibly April 6, the first Monday in April. We're asking people to be cautious that week, as workers will be performing the finishing touches, putting down sod and other tasks. We added some turn lanes on Tecumseh toward 12th Avenue," Covalt said.

The additional work also involves moving underground utilities and milling and building up the intersection at Tecumseh and 12th Avenue East, he said.

Meuser said once the project is complete, Tecumseh Road will be redesignated as US 77 from Flood Avenue east to 12th Avenue East (2.80 miles), and from 12th Avenue East south from Tecumseh Road to State Highway 9 (4.67 miles).

Meuser said the portions of Flood Avenue and Robinson Street previously designated as US 77 (4.06 miles) would be returned to the jurisdiction of the City of Norman.

Tom Blakey 366-3540

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