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OK making progress on deficient bridges

OK making progress on deficient bridges

by: GAVIN OFF World Data Editor

Wednesday, October 07, 2009
10/7/2009 3:03:33 AM

The number of deficient bridges in Oklahoma has decreased by more than 300 since early last year as the state pushes to rehab its aging spans, which in general have ranked among the worst in the country.

"I think it is probably one of the first times we are starting to measure the positive trend," said Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

About 5,385 of the state's 24,000 bridges are considered structurally deficient — or need significant maintenance, repairs or replacement.

In early 2008, more than 5,680 bridges in the state were structurally deficient, according to a federal database of bridges.

Although most of Oklahoma's deficient bridges are under county maintenance, Angier said the state began making strides in repairing its state-run bridges about four years ago, when ODOT started to direct more money toward rehabilitation.

Since 2004, bridges targeted for repairs or replacement in ODOT's eight-year plan have increased from 140 to 563. Money allocated for bridges in the current plan, which runs through 2017, tops $1 billion, Angier said.

Several of the spans in the eight-year plan are in Tulsa County.

They include the bridges at Interstate 44 and Lewis Avenue, I-44 and 145th East Avenue and Oklahoma 11 and Delaware Creek. In addition, the state is currently rehabbing some 40 bridges along the north and west legs of the Inner Dispersal Loop.

"Transportation is very much a long-term process," Angier said. "We have set the plan in motion, but it's going to have to take the commitment of funding."

Despite the success, state and local governments are fighting to maintain an infrastructure that continues to age. According to ODOT, 1,055 Oklahoma bridges are at least 75 years old. That number will increase to 1,583 by 2014.

At its meeting Monday, ODOT approved funding for three new area bridges: at U.S. 75 and 111th Street in Jenks; and bridges on Interstate 44 at Darlington Avenue and 163rd East Avenue. Chunks of concrete began falling from the 163rd East Avenue bridge in 2007, and netting was installed.

Tulsa County is home to 50 bridges that are 75 years old or older, data show. And like last year, it's also home to about 200 structurally deficient bridges. Another 132 are functionally obsolete, or too small for the traffic they carry.

Tom Rains, Tulsa County's assistant engineer, said the county completes two or three major bridge projects a year.

He said the county is set to repair a 725-foot-long structurally deficient bridge along 56th Street North in the coming months. The span, built in 1936, crosses Bird Creek and has a deck and superstructure rated in poor condition, data show.

Randle White, ODOT's division engineer for the Tulsa County area, praised the department's bridge rehabilitation program for extending the life of some area bridges.

The rehabilitation program, which began around 2006, spends about $20 million a year and targets a bridge's specific problem rather than overhauling the entire span.

"We might not be able to bring it up to a full modern day design, but we can continue to let it function and serve its purpose," White said. "It's almost like a preventative maintenance."

County bridge deficiencies

Oklahoma counties with the highest percentage of deficient bridges:

1. Grant County 51.55%
2. Logan County 48.35%
3. Lincoln County 48.23%
4. Pawnee County 45.73%
5. Creek County 44.85%
6. Kingfisher County 42.98%
7. Osage County 41.28%
8. Okmulgee County 39.82%
9. Haskell County 37.82%
10. Ottawa County 37.79%
45. Tulsa County 23.23%
58. Oklahoma County 19.47%

Source: Federal Highway Administration, 2009
Gavin Off 732-8106

Associate Images:


Work is under way on the Inner Dispersal Loop bridges, including this bridge above the southbound U.S. 75 onramp at eastbound Interstate 244. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World


Work is under way on eastbound Interstate 244 near the onramp for the L.L. Tisdale Parkway. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World

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