At what once was the crossroads of Dallas-to-Kansas City trail drives and the Chicago-to-Los Angeles trade route, two Interstate Highways, I-44 and I-235, now intersect. Increasing transcontinental traffic on the I-44 corridor and a heavily traveled north-south railway created the need for a critical and challenging update to the interchange. Benham, a Haskell Company, was selected for its team’s big-picture vision for the interchange, insightful attention to construction traffic control, strong bridge design staff and innovative solutions to minimize disruption to the traveling public.
The project was divided into five construction contracts with a total estimated cost of $220 million, the largest project cost in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) history at the time. Two phases of the project were significant firsts in state history. One was the first four-level highway interchange on the ODOT highway system. The other was the erection of two railroad truss spans, each measuring 275 yards long and 45 feet high and weighing 2 million pounds, to carry a single mainline track for the BNSF Railroad. Benham crafted project documents that instructed the contractor to use Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques, performing truss member assembly 1/4 mile north of the final location and using Self-Propelled Modular Transports (SPMTs) to move the trusses into position.
Benham’s innovating planning allowed the bridge move-in to occur with the highway’s full closure over a two-and-a-half-day weekend. The SPMTs stopped to enable trains to pass unhindered throughout, yet work concluded nearly a full day ahead of schedule, before the Monday-morning rush hour. Further, retaining walls of up to 30 feet in height were designed using adjoining drilled shafts in a “tangent pile” configuration to retain existing embankments. This innovative construction technique allowed the project to proceed without relocating the adjoining businesses or interfering with the railroad embankment. Ultimately, with careful planning by ODOT and Benham and skillful execution by the contractor, the project was completed nearly a year ahead of the original schedule.
From its very beginning, the partnership between Benham, a Haskell Company, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation...