As of Monday March 6, road construction began on Interstate 40 near Shawnee.

THE ISSUE: Interstate 40, just west of US-177 in Pottawatomie County, is currently under construction.

LOCAL IMPACT: Commuters taking I-40 will possibly have an increase in their driving time during the construction project that will impact the area until the spring of 2018.

As of Monday March 6, road construction began on Interstate 40 near Shawnee.

The project will consist of reconstruction of the bridges over Old Town Trail, a county road just west of US-177.

“These bridges were built in 1960 and are structurally deficient,” said Cody Boyd from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Media and Public Relations Division. “Work started this week, primarily equipment and barrier walls being moved into place.”

Once work is completed, traffic will be shifted to one bridge while the contractor replaces the other bridge, and then the process will be repeated.

Over the next year, I-40 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction. Construction crews will do their best to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible, he said.

“The on- and off-ramps at US-177/US-270 will remain open to traffic,” Boyd said. “Drivers can expect delays, especially during peak travel times like rush hour, and should plan extra time or use an alternate route.”

Some local commuters are not happy with the length of the construction project but realize the fixes are necessary.

“My hour long drive home was already taxing,” Crystal Patterson said. “This isn't gonna help. However, it needs to happen at some point so we'll just go with the very slow flow.”

Some commuters have yet to see any delays in their morning or evening drive.

“It's only the first week, but it really hasn't been that bad going to work or coming home,” Adrienne White said. “Fingers crossed it stays that way throughout the project.”

According to ODOT, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission awarded the $7 million contract for this work to Manhattan Road and Bridge Co. of Tulsa in December.

The contract includes financial incentives for early completion of the project, Boyd said.