Another sinkhole closes I-44 in Oklahoma City

User avatar
Posts: 238
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:02 pm
Location: USA

PostThu Jun 03, 2010 9:22 am » by Jesse89202

An 11- to 12-foot-wide sinkhole opened across the westbound lanes of Interstate 44 west of Lewis Avenue during rush hour Wednesday evening, shutting down a miles-long segment of the highway as crews worked into the night to repair the hole, officials said.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials said that the highway would be closed through the morning rush hour and into Thursday afternoon at the earliest, as crews evaluate the damage, fill the hole and repave the highway.

A Tulsa police officer noticed the hole about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. It then was roughly 5 feet deep and took up the right lane and shoulder of the highway's westbound lanes about 500 to 800 feet west of Lewis.

The officer notified a dispatcher, who informed the Transportation Department.

ODOT crews, along with contractors who have been working near the interstate, excavated the area and found that the hole ran under the entire width of I-44, said Randle White, the department's division engineer for the Tulsa County area.

"We started digging it out, and there were some voids under the pavement where some of the dirt or material washed away," White said. "The hole was full of water as well."

White said the department was looking at all possible reasons for the cave-in, but he added that a utility contractor has been boring under the highway at that location.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. George Brown said authorities were looking at the possibility that broken water pipes had drained underneath the waterway.

White said the sinkhole has nothing to do with the department's Perryman Ditch project. The ditch, which is just north of I-44's westbound lanes, is a massive 1.25-mile-long underground structure that will carry stormwater runoff from the Peoria Avenue area to the Arkansas River.

White said it was very fortunate that no one was hurt by the cave-in.

Between 75,000 and 80,000 vehicles a day use that stretch of highway, White said.

Crews were using a mixture of rocks of different sizes to fill the hole before they pave over it, he said. The rock will add support to the sides, he said.

In the meantime, the Transportation Department said it diverted eastbound traffic on the interstate at the Peoria Avenue exit, and westbound traffic at Lewis Avenue.

The department also shut down the westbound I-44 exit from the Broken Arrow Expressway and the eastbound I-44 exit from U.S. 75.

White said the interstate could be open as soon as Thursday evening.

"Our first priority is to try to make the repairs and get the highway open as quickly as possible," he said.

"We certainly appreciate the public's patience and understand that it's frustrating not to be able to go to work the way you normally go," he added.

Brown noted: "This obviously affects the morning rush. If you routinely travel these roadways, people need to expect delays."

He asked that people "be patient with us and let ODOT do their repair."

Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the diversion of the interstate's traffic flow would cause traffic headaches in many parts of Tulsa, especially to the expressways adjacent to I-44.

"Please avoid that area of Tulsa if at all possible and listen to media updates while driving," Bartlett said. "Please be patient and begin your daily commute earlier."

Accompanying the Transportation Department and its contractor at the scene Wednesday were the American Red Cross, Tulsa police, Tulsa firefighters and utility crews.

The area around the sinkhole is scheduled to be widened and repaved next year as part of a $360 million project to widen I-44 from Yale Avenue to Riverside Drive. The Perryman Ditch work is part of the project.

Also planned for the project is replacing several bridges and entrance and exit ramps and adding a new frontage road along I-44's north side.




Read more from this Tulsa World article at ... rss_lnk=11
Sometimes the only sane answer to an insane world is insanity.

  • Related topics
    Last post