Choctaw Road interchange, widening project could be state’s largest ever
By Jeff Harrison
Road crews, orange barrels and lane closures will be a fixture along I-40 in eastern Oklahoma County as ODOT prepares nearly $300 million projects that will reshape the corridor.
ODOT’s eight-year transportation construction plan includes replacing bridges in Del City, reconstructing interchanges at Douglas Boulevard and Choctaw and widening I-40 to six lanes through the Pottawatomie County line.
“This is a significant amount of work that is desperately needed for this area,” said Lisa Shearer-Salim, ODOT spokesperson. “The added capacity is needed for this area that is expected to see continued growth for several years.”
The first and most expensive project on the list consists of rebuilding the Choctaw Road interchange and reconstructing and widening the interstate between I-240 and Peebly Road. The interchange will be replaced with a full-diamond design. The interstate will be expanded from two lanes to three lanes in each direction for four miles.
As part of the project, the bridges over Choctaw and Peebly roads will also be raised from 14 feet to 18 feet to accommodate large trucks. The park and ride at Choctaw Rd. will also be relocated.
ODOT estimates the project will cost about $96 million, potentially making it the most expensive road project in state history. The Oklahoma Transportation Commission is expected to award the contract at their monthly meeting on Oct. 2. The project would likely start early next year and be completed within two years.
“The reason the office engineer’s estimate is so high is because we’re reconstructing nearly four miles of interstate and in some areas that will be to four and five lanes wide with acceleration and deceleration lanes,” Shearer-Salim said.
The most expensive ODOT project in history is an expansion of the I-235/I-44 interchange in Oklahoma City. The state awarded a record $88 million contract to expand the interchange last year.
ODOT will require the contractor to keep at least two lanes open in each direction for much of the project, but delays are expected. Shearer-Salim urged motorists to plan ahead and take alternate routes. ODOT has not yet identified alternate routes for the project.
In 2019, ODOT expects to replace bridges over Crutcho Creek, SE 15th St. and Sooner Rd. in Del City and Midwest City. The aging bridges have required emergency repairs on several occasions in recent years. The combined project is expected to cost $54.5 million.
ODOT expects to begin the Douglas Boulevard projects in 2020. The plans includes widening I-40 to six lanes from Douglas Blvd. to the I-240 interchange. The Douglas Blvd. interchange will also be replaced with a larger Single Point Urban Interchange. The design is similar to a diamond interchange with a single signalized central intersection in the center of the bridge.
More than 54,000 vehicles travel by I-40 and Douglas Blvd. per day. That number is expected to grow to 84,580 by 2045.
The Douglas Blvd. bridge over I-40 was built in 1962 and is listed as functionally obsolete.
Additionally, the project would remove the Engle Rd. bridge over I-40 that provided access to a residential neighborhood south of I-40. This bridge is currently closed to traffic.
Engineers estimate the widening project will cost $70 million and $46 million for the interchange. The state is hoping to fund the project with a federal FAST Lane grant.
In a separate project slated for 2021, ODOT will widen I-40 from three lanes to six lanes between Peebly Road and the Pottawatomie County line. The project is estimated to cost $36 million. It will coincide the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s plan to construct a 21-mile tollroad linking I-44 and I-40 in eastern Oklahoma County.
ODOT revises its eight-year-plan every year. The new plan is expected to be released this fall.