New I-40 in Oklahoma City could open in January

The new Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City, which will replace the aging and crumbling Crosstown Expressway, could be open for traffic as soon as January, officials said.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: December 15, 2011

At least part of the new Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City could be open as soon as next month, officials said.

The state Transportation Department stopped short of naming a target date Wednesday, but spokeswoman Brenda Perry said lanes in one or both directions of the new freeway should be open sometime in January.

The construction project is ahead of schedule. Officials had long targeted 2012 as the year in which the new freeway would open, and of late had been saying it could be open by spring.

The new, 10-lane I-40 runs about five blocks south of the existing freeway — the aging and crumbling Crosstown Expressway — from the Interstate 44 junction to the junction with Interstates 35 and 235.

The $670 million freeway is the most expensive road construction project in state history. Most of it is paid for with federal money. Construction began in 2005.

Final phases near end

Officials have been able to split up the construction of the freeway into several sections, and crews have been able to work on those sections simultaneously. That, plus generally favorable weather and a lack of unforeseen delays, has contributed to getting the work done ahead of schedule, officials said.

“We're obviously on a great pace out there,” said Paul Green, the Transportation Department engineer who oversees the project. “A lot of our major players in our contracting industry are out there working hard to make this happen, and they have a lot of subcontractors who are working seven days a week in a lot of cases.”

It's unlikely officials will be able to open the entire freeway at once, Perry said. Some of the work also depends on the weather, so officials are crossing their fingers the city avoids major winter storms.