By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman city officials are proactively addressing what they describe as urgent concerns on the Lindsey Street and Interstate 35 bridge. Repairs start this weekend, and traffic will be affected.
Beginning Sunday morning, repairs will begin on four sections of the Lindsey Street bridge deck located primarily in the outside eastbound lane of Lindsey.
“This is an emergency repair, and it’s pretty serious business or we wouldn’t be doing it,” said Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary on Friday afternoon.
City staff met with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to plan the repairs. Additional traffic diverted by the Main Street and I-35 interchange construction detour has contributed to the deterioration of the Lindsey bridge, O’Leary said. The bridge carries more than 20,000 vehicles per day, and that traffic has increased since the start of construction on the Main Street interchange at I-35. The bridge is structurally safe for traffic, but repairs are urgently needed, say city engineers.
Norman traffic engineers want to avoid the accidents experienced in other Oklahoma cities when chunks of concrete have fallen from bridges and struck passing motorists. In 2009, a Claremore man was seriously injured when a chunk of concrete hit his vehicle as he was passing under U.S. 169 in Tulsa. In that case, a vehicle had hit the bridge, dislodging the concrete.
Last June, a chunk of concrete fell from a bridge on I-244 in Tulsa and hit the windshield of a pickup. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries in that case.
Norman city staff isn’t taking any chances.
“We’ll try to do some work to extend the life of the structure until we get the new bridge,” Traffic Engineer Angelo Lombardo said. “We’ve seen a lot of deterioration on the bridge and potholes, and there are some repairs that are urgent.”
Repair work will include lane closures that could take from two to four days, but Lindsey Street will remain open to traffic. There will also be temporary lane closures on I-35 and portions of the exit and entrance ramps.
“The traffic on Lindsey and on I-35 will remain open at all times,” O’Leary said. “We are currently working through all of the traffic control plans. Drivers are going to see a variable closure of lanes in a way that there will always be one lane of traffic open in every direction.”
Detours from I-35 and Main will be impacted to some degree, and drivers may want to take an alternative route for a couple of days early next week.
“It’s going to be very short closure,” O’Leary said.
While lane and ramp closures may cause delays, access to the Lindsey Street interchange will remain open, but drivers are asked to proceed with caution.
“This is an active construction zone in the midst of another one,” O’Leary said.
The Lindsey Street bridge over Interstate 35 is approximately 50 years old and in very poor condition, city staff reports. ODOT has scheduled replacement of the Lindsey bridge interchange in 2015 or 2016.
During the week of March 18, an asphalt overlay will be placed on the existing bridge deck to seal the surface of the concrete bridge deck. Lindsey Street will remain open to traffic during this phase of these emergency bridge repairs as well.
For additional information contact the City of Norman Street Division at 329-2524.
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