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Churchman has concrete plan

Churchman has concrete plan

Churchman has concrete plan

John Walker
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN March 17, 2009 11:57 am

With a little over three months in office, Stephens County Commissioner Todd Churchman and his crew are working hard to successfully maintain and improve roads and bridges within his district.

Churchman’s district lies between Commissioner Darrell Sparks’ and Commissioner Dee Bowen’s districts in Marlow and Comanche, respectively.

Now that Churchman is in office for the next few years, he is planning to replace six to 10 bridges a year. He has five men who are specifically assigned to bridge construction.

The rest of his 19 or so employees work on upgrading the roads in the county.

“I’m pretty proud of my guys,” Churchman said. “We’re getting a lot done.”

Many of the bridges in place throughout the county are wood and have been in use for 50-plus years, which means that a good portion of the 300 or so bridges in his district will soon be up for replacement.

About one or two bridges each year will be paid for by federal and state dollars. The rest will be paid for completely by the county.
“We can build them for less than half of what it would cost to contract it out,” Churchman said.

He takes his job of bridge replacement seriously.

“Roads are only as good as the bridges,” Churchman said.

If a road is great for driving, but a bridge is out, then nothing will be able to cross and the road won’t do much good, he said.

The new bridges are not wood. They are a mixture of steel and concrete. The steel beams that support the concrete overlay weigh in at about 97 pounds per foot of steel.

“That’s heavy,” he said.

The beams are driven into the ground until they hit something solid in the ground. Other steel beams are then laid across the ones driven into the ground, which forms the bridge.

“These can hold anything legal to drive on the road,” Churchman said.

Currently, Churchman’s bridge crew is working on a bridge about a mile north of Oklahoma Highway 7 just off of Alma Road.

His road crew is working on replacing Camelback Road west of the Bobby Green Memorial Highway (Duncan Bypass).

Oil trucks ruined the road over the years so that it was much narrower than what it should have been, he said. So, he is replacing Camelback completely with a new chip-and-seal road from the bypass to the west six miles.

Chips are 5/8 of an inch gravel pieces that will be ideal for oil field trucks. The road will also be widened on either side to the standard 20 feet.

Churchman plans to repaire or replace all the roads in his district within the county once every five years.

“That way, we won’t have to redo the roads completely each time,” he said.

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John Walker/The Duncan Banner Dale Renfro works on a bridge near Alma Road north of Oklahoma Highway 7 Friday in Stephens County Commissioner Todd Churchman’s district. The Duncan Banner

John Walker/The Duncan Banner Stephens County Commissioner Todd Churchman’s bridge foreman, Terry Yearby, works on a bridge near Alma Road north of Oklahoma Highway 7 in Stephens County Friday. The Duncan Banner

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