Deanne Stein, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The new westbound lanes of Interstate 40 near downtown Oklahoma City are open. The lanes opened up Sunday morning forcing drivers to use different on and off ramps into downtown.

"Our biggest goal was to get traffic off of the old highway," said Brenda Perry with ODOT. "It's been a long time coming."

Now that the time is here, drivers need to be aware that the on and off ramps to the downtown area have changed. To enter downtown from westbound I-40, you will have to take Robinson or Western Avenues. Eastbound drivers need to exit Western Avenue or Shields/E.K. Gaylord Boulevard.

"We're just hoping they (drivers) take the time to be informed," said Perry. "Their drive to work and leaving work this week will be a lot different for them."

When leaving downtown, drivers will need to enter I-40 eastbound or westbound by using Shields Boulevard or Western Avenue. Changes that are still an adjustment for some drivers.

"Any time there's change and there's something new, it throws you off a little bit," said Coach Marvin Mack, a security guard who works downtown. "I'm going to miss the old 40, the access from my house to where I'm going."

But the old 40 won't be old for long. The next phase of the project includes deconstructing the old I-40 lanes and building a new roadway the city is calling the "Boulevard."

"Once it's built, there will be connections from the new highway on both ends and be a very good way for people to access the downtown area."

"Once everybody gets acclimated, it's going to be great," said Mack.

Work on the Boulevard will begin in the spring and take 18 to 24 months to complete.