Construction is ramping up again on the Belle Isle Bridge, and for about 100,000 drivers who cross the bridge everyday, the daily commute is about to get a lot worse.
On Monday, after morning rush hour, a three and a half month rehabilitation project will get underway.
“Wonderful,” said Alyssa Ludolph sarcastically.
She’s one of those drivers and she knows how construction on the bridge goes. She’s been through it before.
Just about a year ago, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) wrapped up emergency repairs after significant damage to several piers under the bridge was discovered.
This time, crews will be working on a $3.8 million maintenance project to try and prevent that from happening again. ODOT said the current maintenance project though was developing before the damage to the piers was discovered.
“We’re going to apply protective coating, replace the joints. That should help keep anything like sand, salt and water from penetrating and doing further damage,” explained Mills Leslie with ODOT.
The project will last until late June.
“This is going to be a traffic jam, it’s going to be slow. We’re dropping traffic down to 40 mph. It will be one lane at night,” said Leslie.
But this traffic headache may be just a sample of what could be coming in the distance. ODOT has commissioned a study to evaluate options for removing the bridge all together.
“That’s several years out but we are looking into possible options,” said Leslie.
ODOT says removal and reconstruction of the bridge would be 10 to 15 years in the future.
But for now, ODOT is recommending you do what Ludolph will be doing and find a different route.
“I’ll be taking the back roads," Ludolph said.
During the construction, off-ramps to Classen Boulevard, Western Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue may occasionally be closed as well, although not all at the same time.