Interstate 444 Oklahoma

Interstate 444 Oklahoma
History
North End
South End
I-444 - Tulsa, OK Map

Overview

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.

History

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 94A-D and those on the east leg were designated Exits 96A-C.1 Exit numbers along the IDL were removed when the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) made I-444 an unsigned route.3

Route Information

  • North End – Tulsa, OK

  • South End – Tulsa, OK

  • Mileage – 2.51

  • Cities – Tulsa

  • JunctionsI-244

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

Downtown Tulsa, OK - 1971
Downtown Tulsa – 1971 Gousha Map

The initial stretches of the IDL were constructed at the same time Interstate 244 was around the north and west sides of Downtown Tulsa.

Downtown Tulsa, OK - 1975
Downtown Tulsa – 1975 Gousha Map

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 I-244 US 75 US 412 – northeast of Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

I-444 US 75 North at I-244 US 412

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - Tulsa, OK

The IDL drops below grade from the directional T interchange with 7th and 8th Streets at 4th Street on the approach to I-244/U.S. 412 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Expressway) and the Cherokee Expressway north. 05/05/12

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - Tulsa, OK

A Union Pacific Railroad line and two on-ramps pass over the transition of U.S. 75 from the IDL to the Cherokee Expressway as an unnumbered exit departs for I-244/U.S. 412 east to Catoosa, Fair Oaks and Joplin, Missouri. 05/05/12

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - Tulsa, OK

A left exit ramp follows for I-244/U.S. 412 west along the north leg of the IDL to connections with Tisdale Parkway and Sand Springs Expressway (U.S. 64/SH 51) west. U.S. 75 (Cherokee Expressway) advances north to suburban areas west of Owasso and Skiatook. 05/05/12

I-244 US 412 West at I-444 US 75

I-244/US 412 west at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

I-244/U.S. 412 reduce to two westbound lanes as succeeding two-lane off-ramps depart for U.S. 75 and the IDL (I-444) to the left (Exit 6B) and 1st Street and Downtown to the right (Exit 6C). 11/02/16

I-244/US 412 west at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

Left Exit 6B separates from I-244/U.S. 412 west for U.S. 75 north toward Bartlesville and for the east leg of the IDL (I-444) south to the Broken Arrow Expressway (U.S. 64/SH 51). 11/02/16

I-244/US 412 west at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

I-244/U.S. 412 tie into the northeast corner of Tulsa’s Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL), where U.S. 75 travels south from the Cherokee Expressway alongside unsigned Interstate 444 around the central business district. 11/02/16

I-244 US 412 East at I-444 US 75

I-244/US 412 east at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

I-244/U.S. 412 eastbound elevate onto a viaduct across the directional T interchanges linking the freeway with U.S. 75 north to Bartlesville and I-444/U.S. 75 south to Midtown. 11/01/16.

I-244/US 412 east at I-444/US 75 - 2000

Highway Gothic font based signs for unsigned I-444 south and U.S. 75 (Cherokee Expressway) at the Left Exit 6B from I-244/U.S. 412 east. Photo by Rick Mattioni (09/00).

I-244/US 412 east at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

Exit 6B separates into single lane ramps for the IDL south and U.S. 75 (Cherokee Expressway) north. 11/01/16.

I-444 North End Throwback

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - 1995

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

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - 1995

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

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - 2001

Signs for old Exit 96C simply displayed Interstate 244 west without a control city. Photo by Rick Mattioni (04/01).

I-444/US 75 north at I-244/US 412 - 2001

U.S. 75 (Cherokee Expressway) continued north from I-244, 44 miles to Bartlesville from this set of replaced signs. Photo by Rick Mattioni (04/01).

I-244/US 412 west at I-444/US 75 - 2002

Monotube sign bridges were installed along I-244 leading west toward the IDL (I-444) and U.S. 75 (Cherokee Expressway) by Fall 2015 as part of the reconstruction of I-244 between March 2015 and Summer 2016. Photo by Eric Stuve (12/01/02).

I-244/US 412 west at I-444/US 75 - 2002

I-244 west at the left exit ramps for U.S. 75 and unsigned I-444 well before the modernization of the freeway leading toward Downtown. Photo by Eric Stuve (12/01/02).

South End I-244 US 64 US 75 Oklahoma 51 – southwest of Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

I-444 US 64 SH 51 West US 75 South at I-244

I-444/US 64-75 south at I-244 - Tulsa, OK

The initial sign for Interstate 244 along the IDL westbound appears at the S Denver Avenue overpass. The last mainline exit departs in 0.25 miles for parallel 11th Street and Houston Avenue north to Cox Business Convention Center. 11/01/16

I-444/US 64-75 south at I-244 - Tulsa, OK

The unnumbered directional T interchange between I-244 and I-444 lies at the southwest end of Downtown Tulsa between the Arkansas River and adjacent BNSF Railroad tracks. 11/01/16

I-444/US 64-75 south at I-244 - Tulsa, OK

I-244 west / U.S. 75 south overlap across the Arkansas River to split on separate freeways to Sapulpa and Jenks. U.S. 64/SH 51 branch west from I-244 nearby along the Sand Springs Expressway. Photo by Martin McMahon (08/03).

I-244 East US 75 North at I-444 US 64 SH 51

I-244/US 75 east at I-444/US 64/SH 51 - Tulsa, OK

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

I-244/US 75 east at I-444/US 64/SH 51 - Tulsa, OK

This set of signs for unsigned I-444 east (Exit 4B) and 7th Street (Exit 4C) was replaced in kind on the eastbound bridge taking I-244 across the Arkansas River. The new crossing opened to traffic on June 7, 2013. 11/02/16

I-244/US 75 east at I-444/US 64/SH 51 - Tulsa, OK

U.S. 75 splits with I-244 to join U.S. 64/SH 51 east and unsigned I-444 north to the Cherokee Expressway. U.S. 64/SH 51 west follow I-244 north for three quarters of a mile to the Sand Springs Expressway west. 11/02/16

I-244 West US 64 SH 51 East at I-444 US 75

I-244/US 64/SH 51 west at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

A wye interchange (Exit 5A) connects I-244 west / U.S. 64-SH 51 east with 2nd Street and the BOK Center just south of their merge, and one half mile ahead of their split at the IDL (U.S. 75/I-444). 11/02/16

I-244/US 64/SH 51 west at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

U.S. 64/SH 51 east combine with U.S. 75 north along the south leg of the IDL to the Broken Arrow Expressway. The two overlap southeast to Mingo Valley Expressway, where U.S. 169 turns south to conclude at the Creek Turnpike. 11/02/16

I-244/US 64/SH 51 west at I-444/US 75 - Tulsa, OK

Left Exit 4B departs for I-444 along the south side of Downtown. SH 51 joins the central business district with the suburb of Broken Arrow and Muskogee via SH 351 (Muskogee Turnpike). U.S. 75 south overlaps with I-244 west for 2.2 miles to the Okmulgee Expressway. 11/02/16

I-444 South End Throwback

I-444/US 64-75 south at I-244 - 2000

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).

I-444/US 64-75 south at I-244 - 2001

Westbound I-444 at the ramp split to I-244 west / U.S. 75 south to Okmulgee and I-244 east / U.S. 64-SH 51 west to Sand Springs. This set of button copy signs was replaced by Summer 2003. Photo by Ben Prusia (Fall 2001).

I-244/US 75 east at I-444/US 64/SH 51 - Tulsa, OK

U.S. 75 splits with I-244 to join U.S. 64/SH 51 east and unsigned I-444 north to the Cherokee Expressway. U.S. 64/SH 51 west follow I-244 north for three quarters of a mile to the Sand Springs Expressway west. 11/02/16

I-244/US 75 east at I-444/US 64/SH 51 - 2003

New signs installed during Summer 2003 directed motorists from Interstate 244 (Red Fork Expressway) east to unsigned I-444 (IDL) north. This set of signs was replaced by 2009 to use Clearview font. Photo by Martin McMahon (08/03).

I-244/US 64/SH 51 west at I-444/US 75 - 1995

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

Sources:

  1. Side Trips 3: Wherefore Art Thou 94D http://www.tulok.net/s3.html. Roadkahoma (Martin McMahon) – former web site.
  2. “Phone Company Wires Crossed on 1-900 Billing.” Tulsa World (OK), July 18, 1990.
  3. “Despite lack of signage, I-444 exists in Tulsa.” The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), November 23, 2009.
  4. “From east to west, downtown and midtown, major projects affecting Tulsa traffic.” Tulsa World (OK), July 20, 2017.

Page updated November 16, 2020.