I-40 bridge reopens after road repairs

Tuesday, March 11th 2008, 2:22 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

All lanes on westbound Interstate 40 were reopened at around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday night. A hole in the center lane caused officials to shut down one lane of I-40 during rush hour Tuesday afternoon.

All southbound lanes of Classen Blvd. underneath the Crosstown bridge are now open as well.

The lane closure stretched from Interstate 235 to Classen Boulevard as crews repaired the hole, authorities said.

Southbound lanes on Classen Boulevard beneath the I-40 bridge were also narrowed to one lane during the repairs, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Crews cleared the area around the hole and poured in new concrete to repair it.

For years, the bridge has been plagued with problems. So the hole that emerged was not a surprise to many drivers.

Sam Wren tries to avoid the I-40 bridge. He said he does not feel safe when hauling his load.

"I love living down here, the people are great, but the roads are terrible," Wren said.

ODOT Spokesperson Brenda Perry said every time someone drove over the bridge, the hole got a little bit larger. She said repeated work like this could be needed.

"It is something that we have been out there quite a bit doing repairs on; and we will continue to do that to keep it safe for drivers," Perry said.

Crystal Drwenski, who is part of a organization to increase funds for Oklahoma's transportation infrastructure, does not trust the bridge.

"There are 120,000 cars that drive over it a day," Drwenski said. "It shakes when heavy trucks go over it. It is not safe infrastructure."

She believes the I-40 bridge is an example of the thousands of county and local Oklahoma bridges that are crumbling and in dire need of repair.

"This is the third major chunk of concrete that we have had fall in Oklahoma from a major interstate," Drwenski said.

Drwenski believes the answer to fixing the crumbling bridges is to increase funding.

"There is really only one solution, you have to increase funding for roads and bridges," Drwenski said.

There are several bills at the state capitol to increase funding for roads and bridges. 

ODOT said crews are now working on the east and the west end corridors of the new I-40 Crosstown project and expect it to be open in 2012.

Related story: OKC prepares for I-40 Crosstown disaster