Interstate 444 Oklahoma
Interstate 444 forms the eastern and southern half of the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL) in central Tulsa. The urban loop is unsigned as it overlaps entirely with U.S. 75 and with U.S. 64/SH 51 on the south leg. Despite the unsigned status, the route may appear on some maps or GPS units.
Interstate 444 opened in three segments. The initial legs of the IDL opened in the early 1970s as spurs from Interstate 244. The southern section opened east from I-244 to 13th Street while the northern section ran south from I-244 to 7th Street.1 Several years transpired before the remainder of I-444, the southeast corner of the IDL, was completed. This took place in November 1981, with the Broken Arrow Expressway (SH 51) extending west to the IDL in March 1982.2
Exit numbers along both I-244 and I-444 were originally based upon the mileage of I-44 from the west end of the Turner Turnpike at Oklahoma City. Exit numbering along I-244 ranged upward from 89, while interchanges on the southern leg of I-444 were assigned Exits 94 A-D and those on the east leg were designated Exits 96 A-C.1 Exit numbers along the IDL were removed when the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) made I-444 an unsigned route.3
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
The initial stretches of the IDL were constructed at the same time Interstate 244 was around the north and west sides of Downtown Tulsa.
Interstate 444 (IDL) opened as spurs from I-244/U.S. 75 east to 10th Street and from I-244 south to 7th and 8th Streets.
Signs for Interstate 444 were removed by 1995 per ODOT in an effort to ease motorist confusion with signage for I-44 and I-244.3 Photos taken through Tulsa by long time site contributor Cary Todd in 1994 showed no signs of Interstate 444 however. The overlaps with U.S. 64, 75 and SH 51 likely played a significant role in the removal of I-444 as well. This was not without precedent, as the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) removed signs along I-296 in Grand Rapids, Michigan because of confusion involving the concurrency with U.S. 131.
$7.2 million in construction rehabilitated four bridges at the southeast corner of the IDL, where the Broken Arrow Expressway ties in from the southeast. Work started in January 2017 and ran through early 2018.4
North End – northeast of Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma
North End Throwback
Button copy sign signs at the 3rd Street overpass for the adjacent ramps to I-244/U.S. 412 on I-444 north. Directional tabs were added to these overheads in place of Exit 96B and 96C when they were amended to show U.S. 412. U.S. 412 was designated through Tulsa as part of a long distance extension to Woodward in 1989. 05/28/95
The subsequent set of button copy signs retained exit tabs formerly for 96B and 96C as U.S. 412 was not added. U.S. 412 overlaps with another route throughout the entire Tulsa metropolitan area. 05/28/95
South End – southwest of Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma
West South at
East North at
I-244/U.S. 75 cross the Arkansas River with six overall lanes ahead of Exit 4B with the south leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL). Construction from April 2011 to December 2012 replaced the westbound span across the Arkansas River while two-way traffic was in place along the eastbound span. 11/02/16
West East at
South End Throwback
Replaced button copy overheads for I-244 along I-444-U.S. 75 south and U.S. 64-SH 51 west at Houston Avenue. The exit tabs formerly displaying Exits 94A/B were dropped from sign replacements made by Summer 2003. Photo by Rick Mattioni (09/00).
Former button copy signs posted one half mile north of unsigned I-444 by the flyover ramp leading east to 2nd Street. These were replaced by 2002. 05/28/95
- Side Trips 3: Wherefore Art Thou 94D
http://www.tulok.net/s3.html. Roadkahoma (Martin McMahon) – former web site.
- “Phone Company Wires Crossed on 1-900 Billing.” Tulsa World (OK), July 18, 1990.
- “Despite lack of signage, I-444 exists in Tulsa.” The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), November 23, 2009.
- “From east to west, downtown and midtown, major projects affecting Tulsa traffic.” Tulsa World (OK), July 20, 2017.
Page updated November 16, 2020.