Relief on I-35 in Oklahoma through successful bridge build

Jan. 11, 2021

This project successfully alleviated traffic congestion issues in the city of Moore

The city of Moore, Oklahoma needed a relief route to reduce traffic congestion at the busy intersections on either side of the existing bridge at 19th Street and I-35.

Residential growth on the east side of I-35 was placing an increased burden on traffic flow to the commercial businesses on the west side of the interstate. The solution was to provide an interstate crossing one mile south at SW 34th Street. The $11,000,000 project consisted of a four-span bridge over I-35, a single span bridge on SE 34th over Little River just east of I-35, four-lane reconstruction of 34th Street, connector roads from 34th Street to the east and west I-35 service roads, four sets of traffic signals, two new connector road intersections, and intersection reconstruction at SE 34th Street and Telephone Road. Owner Oklahoma DOT partnered with CDR of Brentwood, Maryland on architectural and EST for civil design services. Silver Star Construction Company, headquartered in Moore itself came on as the prime contractor and brought with them Munoz Construction/Cummins Construction of Enid, Oklahoma as sub-contractors responsible for the I-35 bridge construction.

Down to work

The roadway construction portion of the project was primarily dowel-jointed concrete pavement with integral curb. More than 31,000 sq yd, or 7,800 cubic yd, of concrete pavement was installed. Silver Star was responsible for the pavement construction. Crews employed an SF-2700 Power Paver for mainline paving, and a vibratory screed was used for tight areas that were not accessible to the paver.

The bridge portion of the straightaway spanned six lanes of I-35 along with a service road on each side of the highway. The existing shoulders of I-35 were overlaid to allow mainline traffic to be shifted to the outside, keeping all six lanes of traffic open the majority of the time the bridge was constructed. When it was necessary to close lanes for various activities, a traffic management plan was enacted that slated closures primarily at night, so as to minimize impacts on local traffic. The original design was planned so as to reduce I-35 down to four lanes for the duration of the project, but the team came together right up front and found a safe way to add enough structural strength to the shoulders to shift the traffic and keep all six lanes open.

Moreover, this was the first project in Oklahoma history to incorporate LED rope lights on the fencing on both sides of the bridge, though this came with its own challenges, which resulted in several modifications to the design, which the team worked through to ensure the components were accessible for maintenance without having to close lanes of I-35.

Project manager Greg Kalicki stated, “This project was especially enjoyable to be a part of, as all the pieces fell into place and everybody involved calibrated and worked together with the common goal of delivering a quality project. We utilized GPS 3D modeling and machine control on all of our earthwork. This project required importing just over 85,000 yd with full 3D machine control. Our subgrade stabilization was also done utilizing full 3D machine control, which made all sections more efficient as well as instilling confidence when tying to the other phases and the subcontractor work. 3D machine control ultimately made all phases go quicker and increase quality. The majority of the existing paving in this area was two-lane traffic. The project expanded the majority of the paving to four lanes and added signalization, which lent itself to keeping traffic flowing much easier and the phasing easy to communicate to the public making our job much better. The roadway portion was basically complete by the time the bridge was ready to open. The ready-mix used on the roadway paving came from a plant that was within 2 miles of the project, which attributed to keeping us on schedule. Opening the road was a snap as all the major items were in place.”

The bridge over I-35 consisted of decorative form liners and staining to provide a stone look to the substructure, bridge railing that incorporated census data back to the city’s founding, and decorative steel fencing with LED lighting that is programmed to change colors. Benchmark Construction Services of Norman, Oklahoma provided construction inspection, materials testing, and contract administration representing ODOT and the city of Moore. According to Rick Bond, Resident Engineer for the project, “What a great project for the city of Moore! The entire project team—Moore, Silver Star, ODOT, and Benchmark—worked together to overcome a few obstacles along the way, and it resulted in a superior project for the citizens. The communication was excellent. The city knew what it wanted, and the contractor was committed to providing a quality product. It truly was a recipe for success.”

Craig Parker, President of Silver Star Construction, agreed, saying: “This project was a great case study on how to plan and deliver a project using partnering from everyone involved. Everyone knew from the beginning that we were committed to solving issues and problems in the shortest timeframe possible, to always keep all lines of communications open and never let a small problem turn into something that eventually could slow down the project or adversely affect safety or quality. We were extremely proud to be the prime contractor on this project as this project is just 1 mile from our office and plant facilities. We were deeply committed to insuring a successful project. I believe one of the biggest keys to success on any project of this size is ongoing and consistent communications along with starting out with existing positive relationships.”

Getting more for Moore

With the construction of a new bridge spanning I-35, the city council of Moore recognized the opportunity for a meaningful impact on the built environment, intended for both the traveling public on I-35 and for the users of the bridge crossing from east to west. The council formed a committee of interested citizens, facilitated by Community Development Director Elizabeth Weitman, to guide the placemaking process. Because citizen input was important to the Moore City Council, a web-based survey of city residents was conducted to determine what the citizens value in a public works project of this magnitude. While the responses varied greatly, a common theme was identified: Moore is a growing city that values community.

Conveying this broad theme through a bridge held a lot of possibilities. After thoughtful consideration the design committee approved the use of lights and motion to show the I-35 traveling public that Moore is looking to the future. During the day LED lighting is a static design of waves, but at night the bridge comes alive with slow-changing patterns that are visible for up to a mile away, which is Moore’s southern limits. The LED lights can be changed to show solidarity with the community for important events and remembrances. For example, when tragedy struck Moore High School by a drunk driver killing 3 cross-country track runners during practice, all Moore residents were able to stand with the affected families and school system by changing the lights to the school colors.

The bridge also offers users a different experience as you pass from east to west across I-35. The design committee chose other bridge elements to bring the city together both figuratively and literally by investing in a multi-use trail for recreational opportunities. The pedestrian traffic can enjoy an area of refuge on the west side of the bridge. While walking on the multi-use sidewalk on the north side of the bridge, a population timeline is stenciled in the bridge parapet interior face that outlines Moore’s growth from a small town to the current status as Oklahoma’s 7th largest community.

This bridge is a grand entry and an iconic structure that is now providing much needed relief from traffic congestion on SE 19th Street over I-35.

Project Location: 34th St. & Telephone Road East Over I-35Project Length: 0.737 MilesWork Scope: Grade, Drain, Surface Paving, Bridge ErectionProject Cost: $11,456,408.00Design Firm: CDR (architectural); EST (civil)Contractor: Silver Star Construction Company, Inc.Location: City of Moore, OklahomaRun Time: August 11, 2018 – November 20, 2019

About The Author: Parker is with Silver Star Construction Company Inc.

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