View Full Version : Bumpy Concrete Freeways A Thing Of The Past

08-25-2004, 07:57 AM
As you're cruising down I-44, listening to your favorite tunes (Pink Floyd here), drink in hand and enjoying the drive through our great city, there is one think we all are familiar with driving on our freeway system... (thump-thump...thump-thump...thump-thump...). Well, the good news is, the freeways being built in Oklahoma City today will last three times longer that what is now in place.

Construction methods of freeways and interstates has changed in Oklahoma. With new engineering technology, our newest thoroughfares can better withstand weight, temperature fluctuations, and inclement weather. The method is called white-topping. White-topping is where a thick asphalt base is put in place first, then another thick layer of concrete is placed on top. We've all seen this done recently with the Broadway Extension and I-35 in south Oklahoma City. This prevents settling, which the concrete shifts with the foundation due to weather and traffic weight.

For instance, when I-44 and I-35 was widened in the early 1980's, the earth was simply packed down and the contractors poured concrete on a dirt foundation. In ten years time, both freeways settled to the point where ODOT had to rehabilitate the surface of I-35 and I-44 recently through a method called diamond-grinding... basically shaving off the surface to make it smooth again.

The Lake Hefner Parkway, finished in 1992 from N.W. 63rd to north of Memorial, was built using the new construction method. Twelve years later, the freeway is still in perfect condition. ODOT has had to spend very little in terms of maintenance. The Centennial Expressway was completed in 1989 using the older method, and settling is already beginning to occur.

As Oklahoma's roads are being replaced, we will see less tax money being put into maintenance, which saves us money in taxes and wear & tear on our cars. More importantly, better contruction and new technology saves lives. The investment is worth it. And as Oklahoma City continues its growth into a major metropolitan area, it will be well worth it.

Continue the Renaissance!!!

08-25-2004, 10:21 AM
So, do we know when they will be doing the work on I-40, going through downtown? They need to use that new white topping for I-40. The stretch of I-40, from I-35 to I-44 is so bumpy that you really have to have a tight grip on your steering wheel. I'm no expert, but the I-40 Crosstown really concerns me. They better not wait too much longer to do something with it.

08-25-2004, 10:46 AM
Glad you asked, Keith. Actually, since white-topping is now required by ODOT on all concrete-surface projects (the old methods are history), it will be used to rebuild the I-40 Crosstown. White-topping is even now being used on intersection-modification projects, such as N.W. 122 and Rockwell, NW 150th and Santa Fe, NW 164th and Western, NW 150th and Western and many others.

Contruction on the first segment of the new Crosstown will begin this fall. The entire project will be built in phases, with completion set in 2009. We can only hope that an increase in funding will speed up the project before the old Crosstown bridge gives up. I'd hate to see another bridge collapse in this state, except with the Crosstown, it will be from age, not a barge, and it will be on an urban freeway, not a rural interstate highway. This is something that Tulsans don't seem to understand, no matter how many times I've explained on the TulsaNow forum why relocating I-40 is more cost efficient and most of all, critical.

And as I said before, white-topping, especially on I-40, means a sharp decrease in maintenance dollars and reconstruction dollars.

08-25-2004, 03:43 PM
So that's why I liked driving so much on the Parkway. I've always thought we could use as an argument for beefier public transit the high cost of highway maintenance and reconstruction. But with this technique extending road life, that may take a bite out of that case!

Maybe we can still talk about those state bridges...

08-25-2004, 11:08 PM
My only problem with the relocation of the I-40 Crosstown is that it will pretty much destory much of the old Union Station Railyard. That rail yard is worth big bucks, and our city leaders just can't see that. City leaders from Dallas have viewed our railyard and warned against removing it. Dallas once had an old railyard once like the Union Station Railyard. They destroyed it. Had they saved it and used it as the head of their DART system, they could've saved millions. Instead, they've had to spend millions to replace it.

Our city may be thinking ahead in terms of roadways, but their not thinking ahead in regards to commuter rail.

Regardless of that though, I do agree that it's very critical to rebuild I-40. I still just don't understand why it couldn't have been rebuilt on the ground where it's at now.

Of course there are some advantages to it being rebuilt in it's proposed location: I think it will improve the crumbiling Little Flower Hispanic area and the other slum parts of south downtown. Highways tend to spur development. Also it will open up more downtown area for development and possible expansion of both a downtown residential area and the CBD.

In regards to the white topping method of building highways....I'm sure this method costs more in the beginning but it's so worth it in the long run. The Lake Hefner Parkway is still in mint condition! Doesn't look like it's really aged a bit. I notice the city or state hasn't had to patch any pot holes on it! That's evidence of how successful the plan is.

Now, if we could only get the city and state to use asphalt made from recycled asphalt instead of regular ashpalt....this new type of ashpalt lasts nearly twice as long as traditional asphalt, plus it recycles waste!