AASHTO Journal

Oklahoma DOT: Weekend Closure of Major Highway for Rail Bridge Saved Months of Work

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said it recently closed Interstate 235 in Oklahoma City for nearly 60 hours for the first bridge move of its kind in state history, which placed "two giant bridge spans" overhead for freight carrier BNSF Railway and saved months of potential closures.

The department said it closed all lanes of I-235 between N. 36th St. and I-44 starting Friday, Jan. 26.

okdot-railbridge.jpgThe next morning "self-propelled mobile transporters began inching the first of two 45-foot tall truss bridge spans weighing a total of 4-million pounds from their assembly site in the work zone to their final location about a quarter of a mile to the south, just south of N. 50th St. The second span began moving mid-Sunday morning and was fully installed by early Sunday evening."

Northbound I-235 reopened to traffic that Sunday night, the department said, and southbound lanes opened early Jan. 29 in time for the Monday morning commute.   

ODOT said that by building the bridge structures near the highway and moving the assembled spans into place over the weekend "greatly reduced the impact to traffic, requiring the interstate to be closed for a few days rather than several months if traditional bridge construction methods had been used."

ODOT Chief Engineer Casey Shell said: "We know this closure placed a tremendous burden on traffic in the area, and we can't thank drivers enough for their patience. He added that the teamwork between project designers, the bridge contractor and ODOT workers to complete the bridge move in one weekend "was truly a modern engineering marvel and something Oklahomans will long remember."

That work is part of a nearly $88 million reconstruction and widening project on I-235 between N. 36th St. and I-44, which had a year left on its two-year schedule.

Motorists in Oklahoma City can expect I-235 to be open with two lanes in each direction with reduced speed limits in the work zone through 2019, the department said.

"Once complete, I-235 will be widened to six lanes plus auxiliary lanes and receive ramp improvements and a significantly improved drainage system for the highway."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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