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Tribe helps accelerate I-44 work

Tribe helps accelerate I-44 work


Tulsa World

by: GAVIN OFF World Data Editor
Friday, August 07, 2009
8/7/2009 5:39:55 AM

CATOOSA — Not far from the orange construction cones and rushing traffic of Interstate 44, state, local and Cherokee Nation officials on Thursday praised the group effort that pushed one of Tulsa's largest road projects two years ahead of schedule.

Road widening and bridge replacement work at I-44 and 193rd East Avenue was scheduled to start in 2011, but a donation of nearly $12 million in right of way and funding by the Cherokee Nation expedited the $45 million project.

Becco Contractors began road work last week. The entire project could take up to 630 days, though the contractor could receive millions in incentives if it finishes the job sooner.

"I would like for this to be an example for the rest of the state on working with the tribes," said David Stewart, chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Entertainment.

The project will widen a portion of the interstate from two lanes to four lanes in each direction and widen 193rd East Avenue between Admiral Place and Cherokee Street to six lanes with auxiliary lanes.

The project will also replace two deficient bridges with a wider 285-foot-long span.

According to a national database of bridges, the intersection's current bridges were built in 1958. One is structurally deficient with a deck and superstructure — the portion that supports traffic — rated in poor condition.

The other is functionally obsolete, with a deck in fair condition and a superstructure in satisfactory condition, data show.

Structurally deficient bridges are those that need significant maintenance, repairs or replacement. Functionally obsolete bridges are too small for the traffic they carry.

Stewart said the area's growth, anchored by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, is one reason why the intersection needs improvements.

"It's grown at a rate that has outpaced the infrastructure," he said. "The deterioration of the infrastructure has definitely impeded progress, and we're here to change all that."

Stewart was one of several dozen people to attend a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday morning. Other attendees included representatives of the city of Catoosa and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

ODOT officials said work in the area will slow traffic, and they asked drivers for patience.

Gary Evans, ODOT's director of operations, said the department will keep open at least two lanes in each direction of I-44 and 193rd East Avenue north of the interstate from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

All off- and on-ramps will remain open except for short periods during nonpeak hours.

"Inconvenience is just a part of progress," Evans said.

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