State gets $85 million from feds for I-44/Highway 75 overhaul


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation learned Tuesday it would receive an $85 million National Infrastructure Project Assistance grant to help fund projects related to improvements of the Interstate 44 and US-75 interchange.

Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said it’s the largest transportation grant Oklahoma has been awarded.

“This is exciting and welcome news for the Tulsa area and the state of Oklahoma,” Gatz said in a statement. “I-44 and US-75 are vital travel, freight and commuter corridors across the state and this Mega Grant will help us complete much needed safety and operational improvements at this highly traveled interchange.”

The Mega Grant will help fund three phases of already scheduled construction projects around the interchange, ODOT said.

ODOT said “work packages” two and three are tentatively scheduled for construction in late 2023, while work package five is tentatively scheduled in 2024, ODOT said.

The three projects total $205 million in improvements, including completing flyover ramps, new bridges at the Arkansas River, West 51st Street and West 61st Street, a new US-75 frontage road, and improvements to Skelly Drive, DOT says.

"The improvements support replacing and upgrading the most outdated, unsafe, and congested elements of Tulsa’s I-44 corridor that carries almost 150,000 vehicles, including about 21,000 trucks, on a typical day," ODOT said.

ODOT said safer modes of travel for cyclists and pedestrians will also be included, with new sidewalks along West 51st and 61st streets, 49th W. Avenue, and Skelly Drive; a new pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks connecting with Tulsa’s River Parks Trail; and bike lanes on West. 61st St.

Major construction finished on the $90 million work package one in late 2022, which included widening I-44 between the Arkansas River and Union Ave., reconstructing five bridges around the interchange, and reconfiguring several ramps and pier construction for future work packages, ODOT explained.

The RAISE Grant will fund related work to reconnect West 51st Street under US-75, including sidewalks, ODOT said.

The Mega grant program, created by the infrastructure law, funds projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs, explained ODOT.

The Mega program will invest a total of $5 billion through 2026 to help rebuild the United States’ infrastructure for the benefit of residents now and for generations to come, according to ODOT.

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