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McAlester: Coal Creek Bridge re-opens

McAlester: Coal Creek Bridge re-opens

By James Beaty
Senior Editor, McAlester News Capitol

July 13, 2009 11:24 am

Coal Creek Bridge between McAlester and Tannehill has finally been reopened, but it still has a three-ton weight limit — at least for now.
The heavily-traveled bridge had been closed since repairs on the project started last week. For several months now, a three-ton weight limit has been posted on the bridge because of safety concerns that it could collapse.
District 3 Pittsburg County Commissioner Don Mathis said the company conducting the repairs, Gibson and Associates, repaired a cracked support beam and damaged guard rails on the bridge.
“We got it back open around 4:30 p.m. on Friday,” Mathis said. He said it would have been open sooner, but work had been interrupted by rain showers in the area.
The structure originally had a 22-ton weight limit, but the county commissioners set the lower three-ton weight limit earlier this year in the wake of damage to the bridge.
Although Mathis would like to see the weight limit on the bridge raised to 22 tons again, he said some more steps must be taken before that can happen.
“Engineers have inspected it and we’re hopeful it will be raised back to 22 tons,” he said of the weight limit.
However, any raising of the weight limit above three tons will have to be okayed by engineers working with federal officials and by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Mathis said.
If the limit is not raised back to the original number of 22 tons, Mathis said he would like to see it raised to at least 15 tons, so school buses can travel on it once more.
Commissioners awarded the job to Gibson and Associates, Inc. of Balch Springs, Texas, to conduct the repair work after the company submitted the winning bid of $31,900.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused,” Mathis said of the troubles with the bridge, noting that it had been closed for safety reasons.
“I’m glad it’s done.”
Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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