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Work begins on final phase of Oklahoma City Boulevard, here are 4 things to know about the project

Contractors for the state began construction this week on the final phase of the Oklahoma City Boulevard, between Klein Avenue on the west and E.K. Gaylord Boulevard on the east.

The work will complete the connection of downtown to the realigned Interstate 40, following the old I-40 alignment.

Completion is set for mid-2019. Here are 4 things to know about the project.

Look for further traffic congestion downtown.

Project 180, streetcar, and park construction all are affecting downtown traffic.

Demolition and paving associated with the boulevard will affect downtown intersections as work progresses this year and next.

Convention center, and convention center hotel and parking garage construction also are ahead.

So, more traffic headaches.

The boulevard project includes restoring I-40 freeway lighting that has been nonfunctional for some time.

Lighting on the realigned Interstate 40 has been out of order due to vandalism and thefts of copper wire.

State Transportation Department spokeswoman Lisa Shearer-Salim says $500,000 is included in the boulevard contract to restore I-40 lighting.

Shearer-Salim says the I-40 lighting is undergoing the third repair since 2014. Previous repairs have cost in excess of $300,000.

"This crime costs taxpayer money," she said.

This restoration is slated to be finished early in the project and includes modifications to resist further vandalism, Shearer-Salim says.

"We recognize this is a safety issue for drivers," she said.

The near south edge of downtown will be transformed over the next two years by completion of the boulevard and construction of the MAPS 3 streetcar, convention center and park, and a new parking garage and convention center hotel.

Public and private investment in the projects approaches $900 million, most of it public.

A pedestrian-friendly design with landscaping and enhancements to slow down traffic is planned for the boulevard adjacent to the hotel, Chesapeake Energy Arena, the park and a streetcar stop.

Previously completed sections connect the boulevard to the realigned Interstate 40 east of E.K. Gaylord and west of Klein.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission awarded a contract in December for up to $27 million to Allen Contracting and Shell Construction of Oklahoma City to finish the boulevard.

William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›