Special to The Sun
OKLA. CITY —
After only six months of deconstruction work, the state’s longest structurally deficient bridge is nothing more than a memory to Oklahoma drivers. The old I-40 Crosstown bridge, that was part of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline since 1966, has been completely dismantled, making way for the City of Oklahoma City’s future boulevard and its connections to the new I-40 Crosstown that opened in January.
In mid-April, the contractor, Sherwood Construction of Catoosa, began the nearly $10 million project to deconstruct the old Crosstown bridge between Western Avenue and Shields Boulevard In early November, the contractor reached substantial completion of deconstruction work nearly two months ahead of the original eight-month estimate.
Work that was feared to be very disruptive to downtown Oklahoma City traffic proved to be smooth for the most part, and at times, even forgotten thanks to the cooperative efforts of several agencies and the contractor. While main interstate deconstruction is complete, crews will continue to work on removal of the old on- and off-ramps. This ramp work will not require local street closures or traffic delays.
Deconstruction of the old Crosstown is also a major milestone in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s recycling project that will benefit counties statewide. As the highway was deconstructed, engineers inspected and approved more than than 2,000 steel bridge beams from the old Crosstown and other nearby corridor bridges for re-use on county bridge replacement projects. As of Wednesday, all of the recycled beams all have been delivered to 20 staging areas throughout the state at no cost to the counties. So far, recycled Crosstown beams have been incorporated into 24 county bridge projects. Additionally, the contractor has recycled all of the rebar and concrete from the old highway for use on future projects.
On Nov. 5, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved ODOT’s Five-year County Improvements to Roads and Bridges plan for State Fiscal Years 2013-17, which implements increased funding levels approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Fallin to provide more than $900 million for nearly 700 county road and bridge construction projects in all 77 counties. This five-year CIRB program contains another 75 county bridge projects that will make use of recycled Crosstown beams.
“This is a huge success story for the department and a model for state and local government cooperation,” Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said. “I think it’s incumbent on us and county governments to now produce and do what we say we’re going to do.”
Originally designed to carry 76,000 vehicles daily in the 1960s, the I-40 Crosstown had far exceeded its traffic capacity, with more than 120,000 drivers crossing the bridge each day. Throughout the 1990s, ODOT worked with the Federal Highway Administration and the City of Oklahoma City to develop a plan for a new, state-of-the art I-40 Crosstown at ground level located south of the original. Construction of the new highway began in late 2005 and the eastbound lanes of new I-40 Crosstown were completed in early January.
Ridley joined Gov. Fallin and several federal, state and local officials on Jan. 5 to officially open the new I-40 Crosstown. The old Crosstown was entirely closed on Feb. 19, when traffic was switched to the completed westbound lanes of the new I-40 Crosstown.