Part Of New I-40 Crosstown Highway To Open Thursday

Monday, January 2nd 2012, 10:49 pm

Crews have been working on it for more than a decade and a half. This week, part of the new Interstate 40 Crosstown Highway will finally open.

The grand opening event is on Thursday, six months ahead of schedule. The I-40 Crosstown is the state's largest construction project at $670 million. Yet, many drivers and state officials agree it is money well spent.

After ten years of planning, actual construction of the I-40 Crosstown got underway back in 2005. More than six years and countless orange cones later, the highway will be open for business.

Drivers say they couldn't get the green light soon enough. The current I-40 bridge has been named one of the worst bridges in the country and is continually crumbling.

"It is a bridge that served us well, but needs to come down, we need to get the traffic off it quickly," said Gary Ridley, Secretary of Transportation.

But beyond function, those who have worked on the project in the beginning say it will also showcase the best of Oklahoma City.

"When people use it they will see the integration of recreational facilities such as the Oklahoma river, the emergence of the economy with the skyline dominated by the iconic Devon Tower," said Neal McCaleb, former Secretary of Transportation.

Thursday won't mean an end to all those orange barrels completely. Crews will move eastbound traffic first, then westbound. That whole process will take about another 18 months.

Crews will start tearing down the old Crosstown bridge in early spring. That's expected to continue through most of the year.