In 1997, roughly $100 million in federal highway money was earmarked by Congress to help jump-start the I-40 project after an out-of-state senator drew attention to the deteriorating bridge.
“This Crosstown project is a project of huge magnitude,” Angier said. “It's not just a highway project for downtown Oklahoma City. ... This connects the East Coast to the West Coast. ... It's a really significant location.”
Even though major progress has been made in the new Crosstown project, Angier warned that traffic problems — minimal at this point — are likely to increase over the next two years.
She said the project has been unfolding far away from the old Crosstown, pretty much “out of everybody's way.”
“It's been built on the side and, at times, nobody even knew it (construction) was going on. ... It's been a very convenient project,” she said. “But we said we'd be out of your way for a while and then we'll be in your way for two years.
“Well, that time has come. ... There is no other way but impacting some of that traffic.”
Parts of the crumbling, old I-40 will be used on county bridges throughout the state, officials said.
The state has roughly 4,300 structurally deficient county bridges. The massive recycling project is expected to help replace as many as 300 of them.
Evans said the Transportation Department has never an opportunity to recycle on such a large scale before.
“We think that's a great deal for the taxpayers,” Deputy Transportation Department Director Gary Evans said last month. “It's a great deal to retask those beams. It shows how state government and county government can work together.”
Staff Writer Michael McNutt