Peoria and Riverside I-44 exit now open as expansion project continues

TULSA - Major milestones are being reached in the I-44 expansion project. Westbound drivers can now exit at Peoria and Riverside.

"There's been a lot of progress on that corridor since we started in 2009," said ODOT Division 8 engineer Randle White.

Now that ODOT is preparing for the final leg of the I-44 expansion, things are changing quickly along the interstate.

"It's going to be different westbound when you come through there," White said. "So we ask people to slow down and pay attention, because things are changing."

While traffic is still narrowed on Peoria near I-44, customers can more easily gain access to businesses near the highway, like Modish Salon.

Rachal Lillard opened her salon two years -- right in the heart of the construction zone.
"I was told it was going to last about a year. So I had high hopes," Lillard said. "But then a year after I had been there [ODOT] started widening the street out front. I didn't know they were going to do that."

Lillard says during a six-month period, there was only one entrance to the shopping center. She says her loyal clients braved the construction and kept the salon going.

"Good clients, definitely -- loyal clients and referrals," she said.

But the end is in sight. ODOT says the Peoria section of the project will wrap up this summer.

The next and final leg of the project is the expansion at Lewis Avenue. That's scheduled to begin fall this fall. Lewis will be shut down during the construction.

ODOT says that is why Harvard and Peoria were scheduled to be finished beforehand, so they can effectively handle the added traffic.

"We try to phase the construction work to minimize the impact on traffic," White said.

The Lewis phase of the project is scheduled to be finished in 2013. That will be end of the entire I-44 expansion project.

White says the project started with paper work and environmental studies in 1985 and begin with actual construction 2009.

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