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IDL repairs taking shape

IDL repairs taking shape

by: GAVIN OFF World Data Editor
Thursday, August 20, 2009

8/20/2009 3:26:32 AM

Tulsa Construction Tracker: Get more information on major projects in the Tulsa area and weekly updates on other improvements.
Among the patches of dirt, piles of crushed asphalt and tangles of steel cables, state officials see progress.

Less than a month after closing, portions of the Inner Dispersal Loop are in shambles. But the road is on its way to rehabilitation and the bumpy commutes a thing of the past.

Workers have already strip-ped the asphalt off two lanes of the loop's north and west legs. They pulled up about 25 percent of the lanes' base layer of pavement and removed the decks of four bridges.

Jennifer Tyler, project manager for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said construction is on schedule. Even the rain that the area has had recently has "been just enough to settle the dust," she said.

This week, workers with Manhattan Road & Bridge Co., Sherwood Construction Co. and their subcontractors were spread across the north and west legs of the IDL.

Some were using massive saws to cut through nine inches of pavement, while others were using backhoes to knock down concrete walls or jackhammers to crush bridge decks.

Tyler said removing old layers of asphalt and concrete, especially on the IDL's bridges, will be the most time-consuming part of the 580-day project.

"You have to take so much care of not dinging the beams," she said.

Four IDL bridges, including ones over Brady Street and the Broken Arrow Expressway, have been stripped of their concrete, leaving just steel supports over passing traffic.

The Interstate 244 bridge over Archer Street is the first to have been completely repaved.

Although a few bridges will need new diaphragms — the bridge's perpendicular steel beams that prevent it from twisting — the spans will be almost like new once workers add new decks, Tyler said.

"Other than having 30- or 40-year-old beams, they're in great shape," she said.

In all, the $75 million project will repave some 40 bridges and three miles of highway, stretching from I-244's bridge over U.S. 75 west to the Arkansas River.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has diverted traffic heading west on the IDL's north leg and south on the loop's west leg to the south and east legs of the IDL.

Kenna Mitchell, spokeswoman for the department, said she has received about 30 e-mails from concerned residents since the project began last month. Few people were angry about the project and most simply wanted to know how the closures would affect their commutes, Mitchell said.

"I think drivers really know the need for the project," Mitchell said.

Plus, ODOT has surrounded Tulsa with signs about the construction.

More than 30 electronic message boards warn motorists of possible backups on I-244 and hundreds of static signs outline the closed sections of the loop.

Tyler said signage and the department's public outreach prior to construction has likely kept the south and east legs from backing up.

"It's kind of amazing how great traffic is flowing," Tyler said.

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