2005 busiest construction year yet on I-235
2005 will be the busiest construction year yet in the $429 million Interstate 235 reconstruction project, with $122 million in work expected to be completed this year.
Construction crews will be shifting their attention east with the section of I-235 virtually complete between the Eighth Street/73rd Street interchange to the west mixmaster. Some minor traffic flow disruptions will occur on that section during 2005 as crews complete remaining work on barrier rails and add a 2-inch asphalt overlay on the road surface.
Here’s what commuters can expect:
* Traffic on I-235 will be reduced to two lanes in each direction between the Eighth Street/73rd Street and Cottage Grove interchanges from approximately April to November.
* Work started last year continues at the 63rd Street interchange, with the east half of the new bridge and interchange completed. The remainder of the work should be done by mid-summer, and one lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained on 63rd Street. The ramps on the west side of the interchange will be closed.
Construction on the new 56th Street interchange begins in March. A new bridge and westbound off-ramp and eastbound on-ramp will be reconstructed. The loop on the southwest quadrant of the interchange will be permanently closed, and 56th Street will be closed in the vicinity of I-235. The work is scheduled to be completed in December.
* The 44th Street and 40th Street pedestrian bridges with the blue steel “basket-handle” arches that soar almost 70 feet above the roadway will be constructed. Arches will be installed in the mid to late spring, with a fall completion date. No major road closures are expected, but I-235 could be closed briefly over a weekend for the installation of the arches.
* The south one-half of the 31st Street exit will be closed in the coming weeks. A new bridge will be built over the freeway for 31st Street and ramps serving the interchange will be rebuilt. Also, a new eastbound ramp will be built to replace the existing ramp at 35th Street, which will be closed. During the construction, which will continue throughout the season, 31st Street will be closed in the vicinity of I-235.
* Reconstruction of 28th Street under I-235 will begin after 31st Street is reopened to traffic, and 28th Strreet will be closed in the vicinity of I-235 during construction.
* Work that began in September will continue on the Keo Way interchange and will involve the building of new westbound exit ramps from I-235 to northbound and southbound Keo Way and 18th Street/Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. The westbound exit ramp and eastbound entrance ramp will reopen in mid-summer. The second phase of that project involves grading and building two new bridges over Keo Way for the mainline traffic lanes of I-235. Westbound mainline traffic will be diverted onto the new ramp lanes the bridge built in the first phase of the Keo Way project. The eastbound exit to Keo Way and westbound entrance ramp from 12th Street will be closed during construction. Completion of this phase of the project is scheduled for early summer 2006.
* Reconstruction on Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street began last year and will continue through the summer. A new Sixth Avenue bridge over I-235 is being built in the first phase of the project. Northbound and southbound traffic is maintained by temporarily converting Seventh Street to two-way traffic. In the second phase of the project, new bridges will be constructed for Seventh Street and Fifth Avenue over I-235. Northbound and southbound traffic will be maintained during this stage by converting Sixth Avenue to two-way traffic.
* The East University Avenue interchange project began last year and is expected to last through December. Work includes building new eastbound mainline roadway and bridges on I-235 from East 15th Street to Guthrie Avenue; rebuilding all of the ramps serving East University and Easton Boulevard; and extending Easton Boulevard under I-235. The eastbound on-ramp from East 15th Street and all ramp movements at East University and Easton, except for the eastbound off-ramp to East University, were closed in December. The eastbound off-ramp at East University and westbound off-ramp to East 15th will close this spring.
* Storm sewer, paving and bridge work in the median at Hull Avenue and Guthrie Avenue will continue, with two lanes of traffic maintained during peak driving times. Construction at Guthrie Avenue began in November and will continue through early summer. Construction at Hull Avenue and median paving is scheduled to begin in March and end in December.