Oklahoma City Drivers Await Upgraded I-35

Fri October 10, 2003 - West Edition
Richard Miller

For drivers moving slowly on I-35 in southern Oklahoma City, the reality that the four-lane road is long past its prime is quite evident. The 40-year-old highway has long exceeded its capacity as 100,000 motorists per day creep along far below the posted speed limit.

To reduce congestion and increasing maintenance costs, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has moved to expand and update this section of highway to six lanes.

The process will not be easy. The 1.5-mi. (2.4 km) section of highway now travels through mostly urban areas of Oklahoma City and Moore and any construction could have a harmful effect on the businesses that border the highway.

In March 2002, ODOT awarded a $23-million contract to Sherwood Construction Co. of Oklahoma City, OK.

According to Serena Chapla, resident engineer for ODOT, “The project was bid using the A+B bidding method. ODOT estimated it would require 640 days to complete the project. Sherwood placed their bid for completion at 500 days and to avoid penalties, they must reach substantial completion in 500 days without consideration for weather and utilities.

“ If they complete the project early, they will receive a $10,000 per day bonus, up to a maximum of $800,000. In addition, the contractor can receive a lump sum incentive of $150,000 if they are able to provide unobstructed access to the local businesses and shopping mall from Thanksgiving to December 31, 2003,” Chapla said.

Design responsibilities for the project were contracted with Poe and Associates Inc. of Oklahoma City, OK

The new mainline will be three lanes in each direction. Pavement will be 10 in. (25 cm) in depth of continuously reinforced concrete pavement, with 10 foot (3.1 m) shoulders. The service roads on each side of the highway will be dowel-jointed concrete pavement.

According to Chapla, “The contract provides for a smoothness specification. The contractor is responsible for providing a profilograph or profilometer, with a certified operator. All testing is performed with a state inspector present and the results are provided upon completion of the test.”

The 9-in. (22.9 cm) dowel jointed concrete pavement for the service roads is held to a Class III specification which allows a total deviation of nine to 11 in. (22.9 to 27.9 cms) along a mile (1.67 km) section for 100 percent payout.

The 10-in (25.4 cm) continuously reinforced concrete pavement is held to a Class I specification which allows a total deviation of 5 to 7 in. (12. to 17 cm) along a mile section for 100-percent payout.

Chapla stated, “The contractor can receive up to 103 percent for a smoother ride or be penalized 80 percent on payout for a rough ride. ODOT also has guidelines in place that allow the department the option to have the contractor remove and repave any pavement deemed deficient.”

An asphalt base will be laid as a base for the concrete pavement. Haskell Lemon Construction Company of Oklahoma City is the subcontractor for this part of the project.

The contractor was forced to work under extreme temperatures this summer, which is not unusual for Oklahoma. The only material affected by the temperature is concrete. ODOT specifications require the concrete temperature upon arrival on the job site to be below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The concrete contractor accomplishes this by using chilling methods such as water, ice or dry ice. In addition, the site foreman must not order too many trucks at once. “If a truck has to sit on the job site for an extended period of time the concrete will heat up quickly and we will have to send him back to the plant for another load.”

Sherwood’s mixing plant is located on a temporary site .25 mi. from the construction area.

The 82nd and 66th Street bridges cross I-35 in the construction area. The project calls for replacing one and modifying the other to accommodate the widened highway. The bridge being demolished is slab designed and will be removed by excavators with ram attachments, razing the bridge at the abutments. Other excavators, with hydraulic jaws, will reduce the concrete and sever the reinforcing steel.

The replacement structure will be a two-span bridge with a reinforced concrete deck set on structural beams.

Two reinforced concrete boxes and all of the cast-in-place retaining walls along the project are being installed by Wittwer Construction of Stillwater, OK.

During the major construction period, traffic in each direction on I-35 will be diverted to two-lane temporary roads that parallel the outer frontage roads.

The anticipated completion date of this project is May 2004.