Interstate 44 in northwest Oklahoma City is narrowed for bridge repairs

Two lanes of Interstate 44 in Oklahoma City are closed on the Belle Isle bridge, as is an on-ramp. An expansion joint that damaged vehicles early Monday needs to be repaired, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports.
BY ROBERT MEDLEY rmedley@opubco.com Modified: July 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm •  Published: July 18, 2011

Eastbound Interstate 44 between Pennsylvania Avenue and Northwest Expressway remained narrowed to one lane as of noon, and the eastbound on-ramp from Northwest Expressway to I-44 remained closed for emergency bridge repairs.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials estimate the closure could last until late afternoon but think the lanes will reopen before evening rush hour. Drivers should expect long delays and are encouraged to find an alternate route.

The heat and the aging interstate were blamed for the buckling of a steel expansion joint, which damaged several vehicles before two lanes of the interstate were closed Monday morning by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Parts of the joint have risen above the buckled concrete.

“We really want to caution people who are driving this morning, especially people who are on motorcycles,” patrol spokeswoman Betsy Randolph said earlier. The extreme heat could cause asphalt to buckle across central Oklahoma, Randolph said.

Motorists along I-44 eastbound between Northwest Expressway and Broadway Extension could be seen pulling off the interstate after hitting the expanded joint on top of the Belle Isle bridge near Classen Boulevard and above Northwest Expressway.

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