Turnpike bridge work may finish in May

Masons form the barrier in the median of improvements on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike between Wilshire Boulevard and State Highway 66 on Tuesday. Officials expect the project to be completed in May. Photo / Chris Eversole

Work is ahead of schedule for the rebuilding of bridges and other improvements on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike between Wilshire Boulevard and State Highway 66, an official said.
“The contractor is way ahead of schedule, so we are hoping that they can complete the work in May,” said Joe Echelle, the assistant to the executive director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
The original goal for completing the $62 million project was July.
The project is on a fast timeline as such projects go, having begun in October 2018, he said.
The work involves refurbishing the two bridges between Wilshire Boulevard and SH-66 and adding pavement for future lanes.
The added future capacity is greatly needed due to a 50 percent increase in traffic volume in the area over the past six years, Echelle said.
“The normal growth is 2 to 3 percent a year, not the 12 to 13 percent we’ve been experiencing,” Echelle said.
Turnpike officials decided to replace portions of the bridges because they have an up and down sway, he said.
When they were constructed, the turnpike authority was relatively new in building such bridges.
It expected they would camber upward slightly at first, then settle down to be flat.
“They never relaxed,” Echelle said.
Meanwhile, the the northbound section of the Mustang extension of the turnpike will open after a ribbon-cutting with Gov. Kevin Stitt and other officials at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The southbound section is scheduled to open two weeks after that, Echelle said.
Finishing the loose ends of $235 million Mustang turnpike extension will be ongoing after the initial opening of northbound and southbound traffic.
Until work is completed on a bridge at the southern end of the project, traffic initially will exit the turnpike for one-eighth of a mile near Council Road and State Highway 152, Echelle said.
The bridge work should be done by early March, weather permitting, he said.
The turnpike authority will finish work on cross streets through July 1, he said.
The widening of Sara Road from near SW 29 Street and SH-152, which is being done in conjunction with the turnpike extension, will take up to two years, he added.

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