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Okla. Highway Plan to Include Work on I-40, I-44

Sun April 15, 2007 - West Edition
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Rebuilding Interstate 40 through downtown Oklahoma City and a project on Interstate 44 in Tulsa will eat up a good chunk of a $3.7 billion highway plan, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) said.

The eight-year construction plan unveiled Feb. 6 also included installing median barriers on multi-lane highways to prevent crossover collisions and upgrading rural interstate highways, officials said.

“Interstates are our lifeblood, and we’re going to keep them healthy,” Transportation Director Gary Ridley told the Oklahoma Transportation Commission.

The plan reflected construction costs that have risen 35 to 45 percent during the past few years, Ridley said.

The program is based on estimates of how much money will be available, including approximately $500 million a year from the federal government, $200 million annually from the gasoline tax and the rest from state appropriations that eventually will hit $470 million a year.

Completion of the new Crosstown Expressway, or I-40, in downtown Oklahoma City is expected in approximately five years, officials said. Once open, the old Crosstown Expressway will be torn down and a boulevard will be built. Initial estimates for that project have ballooned from approximately $360 million to approximately $557 million, officials said.

Work on I-44 from Riverside to Yale and U.S. Highway 412 in Tulsa should be done within five years, costing approximately $363 million, officials said.

Other projects included finishing work on I-35 between Moore and Norman, along with interchanges at Main and Lindsey streets and State Highway 9 in Norman. Officials expected that project’s cost to top out at $100 million.

Another project would add shoulders to more than 400 mi. (644 km) of two-lane highways in Oklahoma, while another involves placing 240 mi. (386 km) of median barriers on high-traffic routes.

In Oklahoma City, approximately $300 million is needed to rebuild the Broadway Extension, or U.S. Highway 77, from N.W. 36th Street to Memorial Road for approximately $150 million.

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