Oklahoma DOT Holds Special Transportation Commission Meeting for I-35 Rock Slide
TULSA, OK Help is on the way for the busy I-35 corridor in the Arbuckle Mountains south of Davis, Oklahoma, and other highways in southern Oklahoma thanks to the Transportation Commission's approval of an emergency declaration at a special meeting. To expedite repairs, engineers and commissioners felt it necessary to meet before the regular commission meeting to proceed. Drivers are asked to be patient, as it could be up to two months before all lanes of I-35 are reopened however contractors hope to complete repairs as quickly as possible.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) will issue an $870,000 contract to GeoStabilization International of Colorado to stabilize the rock face and a separate $574,000 contract to Oklahoma-based Silver Star Construction for removal of the fallen rock from the slide that closed the northbound lanes of I-35 near Turner Falls in Murray County, Oklahoma.
A nationally-recognized expert in this field, GeoStabilization International will remove the unstable rock mass with a series of small charges, and then will use a combination of specialized machinery and hand tools to remove any loose rock remaining. For safety reasons, blasting will require complete closure of I-35 in the area.
To stabilize the rock face, GeoStabilization International will place rock bolts through the formation. Each rock bolt is between 20 feet and 30 feet long. Finally, Silver Star Construction will be tasked to haul the estimated 14,000 tons of fallen rock away from the highway, where it becomes the contractor's property and may be offered to nearby quarries. As a long-term safeguard, ODOT will place markers on the rock formation as a visual reference to help crews monitor the rock face for any further movement over time.
Following the rockslide caused by heavy rains, experts from the Colorado Department of Transportation and construction contractors were consulted and visited the site to help ODOT develop a plan of action for this unprecedented disaster. Since May, heavy rainfall and flooding in Oklahoma have caused damage to highways and bridges statewide and ODOT is working quickly to expedite emergency repair projects. GeoStabilization International is also working to repair landslide damage on highways in Haskell, LeFlore, and Pushmataha counties.
A temporary crossover completed by Overland Construction is allowing one lane of interstate traffic in each direction using the southbound lanes of I-35 until the major repair work to stabilize the rock face and remove the fallen debris can be completed.
The speed limit on I-35 is reduced to 50 mph and drivers should expect congestion and delays in the area, especially during peak travel times and holidays. Additionally, I-35 is narrowed to one lane in each direction just north of State Highway 29 near Wynnewood, Oklahoma, and in Ardmore, Oklahoma, for ongoing bridge rehabilitation work.
Commissioners also approved emergency contracts for bridge repairs on U.S. 70 between Wilson and Lone Grove, Oklahoma, in Carter County, State Highway 89 near Ringling, Oklahoma, in Jefferson County, replacement of a collapsed roadway pipe under SH-7 near Velma, Oklahoma, in Stephens County, and embankment repairs to State Highway 78 over the Red River in Bryan County.