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Contractors were able to reopen all lanes of I-35 by 1 p.m. Aug. 7, 2015, of ahead of schedule.

UPDATE: I-35 in the Arbuckle Mountains now open ahead of schedule

As of 1 p.m. Aug. 7, 2015, all lanes of I-35 are open to traffic.

One lane of northbound I-35 is now open near Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains. The second northbound lane is expected to open Friday morning and two southbound lanes reopening mid-day Friday with all lanes open by Monday. Crews will work to reopen all lanes in phases through Monday with hopes of completing sooner. The order in which lanes will open are as follows:

  • One lane of northbound I-35 now open;
  • Second lane of northbound I-35 will be opened Friday morning;
  • Southbound I-35 will be reopened to two lanes mid-day Friday; and
  • The third southbound I-35 lane and the southbound I-35 on-ramp from US-77 will reopen Monday.

Contractors working for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation have made tremendous progress with stabilizing the Arbuckle rock slide following heavy rains on June 18. Crews worked around the clock in order to successfully stabilize and clear the area. Workers persisted to expedite the process in all possible areas while maintaining a safe work zone.

Drivers can expect fewer delays through the weekend as the lanes reopen.

The contractor will resume work in October on the final phase of installing rock bolts for future stabilization. This work is expected to only involve closure of the northbound shoulder area.

Advisories will be sent from this office as needed.

I-35 Rock Slide Stabilization Progresses

Silver Star Construction removed more than 14,000 tons of rock from the northbound I-35 corridor.

The Arbuckle Mountains along the I-35 Corridor were not immune to the record-setting rainfall and flooding impacting Oklahoma this year. A section of one mountain face separated June 18 after significant amounts of rainfall hit the area known as the Honey Creek Pass at mile marker 51 in Murray County. A rock slide followed, littering the right lane of northbound I-35 with large boulders and smaller rock debris in the early morning hours, causing ODOT to close the northbound I-35 lanes.

Soon after, traffic was moved to one lane southbound and one lane northbound.

This $1.4 million repair project, approved in a June 30, special meeting of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission, included controlled blasts starting on July 8, 2015, to remove the unstable mass of rock overhanging the highway. In addition to blasts rock remediation techniciansare using high-pressure water and air, heavy machinery and hand tools to remove remaining debris hazards. A big milestone was reached July 31 when the contractors began hauling away the fallen rock. Over the next few weeks, trucks will move an estimated 14,000 tons of fallen rock away to a local quarry to be weighed and crushed. Contractors will also install large rock bolts to secure the remainder of the site in October.

Motorists and truck traffic wishing to avoid the corridor can use US-81 through Duncan to the west or US-69 through Durant to the east. Also, US-77 to the east of I-35 is another alternate route to avoid the construction zone.

Repair Work

ODOT is documenting the progress of the repair project. Contract crews have been on site since July 2 performing stabilization work. Here, in pictures, is how the work is progressing:

GSI used high-pressure water streams as one of its tools July 9, 2015, to bring down more unstable rock.
GSI set off the charge just before 7 p.m. July 8, 2015, to bring down a large portion of the unstable rock from the Arbuckle Mountains near Turner Falls along I-35.
GSI crews make final preparations before the July 8, 2015, charge was set off.
Crew from GeoStabilization International of Colorado work on equipment in preparation for the July 8, 2015,
small ignition charge that removed overhanging rock separating from the mountain.
Workers prepared charges at the top of the mountain to help bring down the remaining unstable rock.
ODOT employees and the contractor met on site July 2 for a pre-work conference to finalize repair and remediation plans.
Large boulders came tumbling down June 18 after heavy rainfall from the Arbuckle Mountains rock face along northbound I-35 near Turner Falls in Murray County causing the closure of northbound I-35.
Portions of the rock face began separating after heavy rains June 18, 2015.
Last Modified on Oct 21, 2020
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