Motorists now ‘On Broadway’ after I-235/I-44 opening celebration
Transportation officials raised the curtain Thursday afternoon on the last major act that will significantly impact traffic at the I-235/I-44 interchange, which puts motorists back “On Broadway” after three years of construction.
Thursday’s celebration with Gov. Kevin Stitt, Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, local and state officials opens to traffic a critical interchange that moves nearly 100,000 vehicles daily between the northern portion of the metro area and the city’s center with access to Downtown, Midtown, Bricktown, the Boathouse District, the State Capitol Complex and more.
“Thanks to Secretary Gatz and his team at ODOT, today’s opening of the I-235/I-44 interchange is the culmination of more than 30 years of community involvement, planning and construction. It’s a huge step forward in improving our urban transportation system,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Thanks also goes to our legislators, who in recent years have invested in our transportation infrastructure with dedicated funding avenues, to meet not only today’s needs but also needs well into the future. While thousands will be thrilled to see construction come to an end at this key interchange, we must continue to improve our highway network as the economy and population of the Oklahoma City metro area continues to grow.”
This $105 million, three-year-long project widened I-235 to six lanes and up to eight lanes in some areas between N. 50th St. and N. 63rd St. The reconstruction includes 11 new bridges in the 1-mile-long work zone. Crews built two flyover ramps to move traffic more efficiently and safely through the interchange, and made this the first four-level interchange on the state interstate system. The flyover ramps also replaced the northeastern and southeastern loop ramps.
“ODOT has invested nearly $400 million in the I-235 and US-77/Broadway Extension corridor to meet traffic demand across the growing Oklahoma City metro area and to significantly improve safety,” Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said. “This herculean feat could not have happened without significant partnerships. We want to thank the Legislature and the Governor for their support as well as recognize the hundreds of ODOT employees and contractors who made this corridor improvement possible. Specifically, we want to recognize motorists for their commitment to using ‘Off Broadway’ alternate routes for the past five years, making this corridor safer for them and workers.”
Thursday’s opening brings to a close almost 11 years of construction to modernize the I-235/I-44 interchange and includes highlights such as adding traffic capacity, significantly lessening the chance of flooding along the corridor and the 2018 installation of the 45-foot-tall railroad truss bridge over I-235 using construction techniques new to Oklahoma. The railroad bridge move-in along I-235 also drew hundreds of spectators to the site during the 60-hour interstate closure, and was viewed live by thousands on a dedicated live stream video.
OFF BROADWAY I-235 TIMELINE
- Act 1 in 2011: I-235/US-77 ramp to I-44, $23 million
- Act 2 in 2013: I-44 ramp to I-235 and the I-44 merge area to US-77, $9 million
- Act 3 in 2017: I-235 widening between N. 36th and N. 50th St., $88 million
- Act 4 in 2019: I-235/I-44 interchange adding two flyover ramps, $105 million
- Act 5 in 2023: I-44 to US-77 ramp, connect from N. Lincoln Blvd., estimated $16 million
- Previous CIP phases 1998 to 2008: Widening and reconstruction US-77/Broadway Ext. between I-44 and Edmond, $140 million
The state Legislature provided funding for a massive Capital Improvement Project program to improve corridors of economic significance, which included the widening of US-77/Broadway Ext. between I-44 and Edmond. Those projects began in the mid-1990s and continued under the stewardship of several governors. The adoption of ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan and ultimately the creation of the ROADS Fund in 2005 by the Legislature paved the way to federal matching funds for the five interchange reconstruction phases. This $241 million construction investment helps improve safety and provides a direct connection from the metro’s northern portion to its center core.
This intense effort involved hundreds of workers at all levels from design to construction, and included multiple engineering design firms, contractors, sub-contractors and ODOT personnel. Originally, projected at seven phases, this became a five-act production with an estimated $16 million project scheduled for 2023 to revamp the westbound I-44 ramp to northbound US-77/Broadway Ext. and provide a direct connection from N. Lincoln Blvd. to US-77. This final act is not expected to impact the main interchange traffic in a significant way.