The Oklahoma Transportation Commission made history at its Dec. 8 meeting with its approval of a contract for major I-35 work at two interchanges in Norman, the largest single construction contract awarded in the history of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The contract had a $71 million base bid along with possible financial incentives for early completion for reconstruction of the north half of the I-35 interchange at SH-9 East and reconstruction of the Lindsey St. bridge as a Single Point Urban Interchange. Along with the interchanges, this massive project will complete widening of the interstate to three lanes in each direction to the South Canadian River to help alleviate congestion and accommodate future traffic in the area.
The two interchanges were bid together due to close proximity, but the S.H. 9 interchange will be completed before the Lindsey St. portion will begin. Each interchange has a separate deadline for completion, with the contractor, Sherwood Construction Co. of Tulsa, standing to earn financial incentives for finishing each interchange early and minimizing the temporary closure of 24th Ave. S.W. during S.H. 9 construction.
Work is expected to begin in early 2015 and both interchanges should be completed in about two and a half years, with financial incentives in place for opening all interstate lanes and ramps to traffic in less than two years. Two lanes of I-35 will remain open to traffic in each direction during construction, as well as the Lindsey St. and S.H. 9 ramps, however some nighttime closures will be necessary. An ongoing project to reconstruct the south half of the I-35/S.H. 9 interchange that began in late 2013 is nearing completion and will provide a new cloverleaf ramp from southbound I-35 to eastbound S.H. 9.
Like the new Main St. interchange in Norman, the reconstructed Lindsey St. SPUI will feature longer on and off-ramps at I-35, a wider bridge and single array of traffic signals on top of the bridge to allow large volumes of traffic to negotiate the area. The City of Norman is partnering with ODOT to construct a drainage structure and add artwork and landscaping to the new Lindsey St. bridge to reflect the Cherokee Gothic style of architecture at the University of Oklahoma.
The Norman area has seen several major highway projects in the recent years, including reconstruction of the bridges at the South Canadian River and Rock Creek Rd., reconstruction of the Main St. interchange and the first of several projects to widen SH-9 between Norman and Tecumseh, which is currently underway.