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Okla.’s Ailing Crosstown Gets $194M Injection

Mon November 10, 2008 - West Edition

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved a $4 billion program Oct. 6 to improve roads, replace 449 deficient bridges and finish relocating downtown’s busy, trouble-prone Crosstown Expressway.

This provides the final $194 million needed to push the Crosstown, an elevated section of Interstate 40, south to an alignment along the Oklahoma River, opening up land for development between the shore and the city’s core. The highway will also be expanded to 10 lanes. The project is to be finished in 2012.

Over the last several years, the Crosstown has undergone frequent repairs. Holes sometimes open in the road deck, dropping concrete to the ground below.

Will the expressway last until 2012?

“Absolutely,” Transportation Director Gary Ridley said.

Inspection teams monitor the Crosstown almost daily.

Any danger of it collapsing?

“I’m not going to say that it’s impossible, but I am going to say it is highly unlikely,” Ridley said. He said he travels on it to and from work.

“If we felt there was anything wrong that would cause us concern, we would close it, and we wouldn’t think twice about it.”

Originally built in 1965, the expressway carries 120,000 vehicles a day, almost 50,000 more than the intended capacity of 72,000.

All 77 counties have projects in the construction plan, which covers the next eight years.

Ridley said the plan was made possible because of legislation approved this year increasing the budget of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation by $30 million each year until the extra funding hits $370 million.

Lawmakers also approved $300 million in bonds to keep ODOT’s work on track.

Other highlights of the plan are:

• 95 mi. (152 km) of concrete and cable barriers on highway medians.

• 460 mi. (740 km) of improvements on inadequate two-lane roads.

• $2.1 billion of major improvements to high-volume highways.

• Reconstruction of high-volume roads including projects on Interstate 44 from Riverside to Yale and U.S. 412 in Tulsa and along Interstate 35 in Norman.

Ridley called it a “conservative plan” that counts on federal funding of 60 percent on the projects and has a 6 percent built-in inflation factor.

Federal funding has paid for 85 percent to 90 percent of Oklahoma highway projects over the last five years.

The plan includes $16 million to “get the ball rolling” on a huge project to rehabilitate Interstate 244 over the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Ridley said.

It also includes two $13 million projects to replace bridges on I-40 west of Oklahoma City and $33 million for bridge replacement in Craig, Grant, Logan, Noble, Seminole and Wagoner counties.

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