TYLER, Texas (KETK) - The Texas Department of Transportation will close I-20 to traffic at FM 849 at Hideaway from noon Sunday through Wednesday morning for the demolition of the bridge that sustained major structural damage last month.
I-20 eastbound and westbound at this location will be closed with traffic reduced to one lane in each direction on the ramps.
TxDOT is urging drivers to use alternate routes to avoid the extreme delays expected during this work.
The FM 849 Bridge over I-20 was struck November 14 by an oversized load carrying a tank vessel causing significant damage to three of the four girders, making it unsafe for traffic.
TxDOT said the closure of I-20, set for noon Sunday, is required for the safe, efficient removal of the existing structure and the safety of the traveling public.
"This is not a typical lane closure because we're actually shutting down I-20 around the clock for three days and putting traffic on the ramps, which could cause major delays," said Kathi White, TxDOT Public Information Officer. "Moving such a high volume of traffic to the ramps will cause lengthy delays. Traffic on all connecting roadways, such as Toll 49, will be impacted as well. Our best suggestion is to avoid I-20 if at all possible."
After removing the existing steel and concrete structure, daytime and nighttime operations will begin to construct the new bridge. This will also include periodic lane closures and delays on I-20.
The bridge will be replaced with a 4-span reinforced concrete bridge and the project includes include roadway work to connect to the new overpass approach slabs.
TxDOT is urging motorists to use caution when traveling through the work zone.
In addition to the Dynamic Message Signs along I-20, portable message boards will be used to alert traffic to the closure. Local law enforcement will be stationed along the corridor to assist with traffic control.
The project, originally scheduled for several years down the road, is expected to be completed in mid-April, weather permitting.