Quakes Spur Oklahoma Road and Bridge Inspections

June 20, 2014

The recent spate of strong earthquakes in central Oklahoma hasn’t caused any significant damage to bridges and roads, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

The agency said ODOT crews inspect bridges in a five- to 10-mile radius from the epicenter of any earthquake that’s magnitude 4.0 or larger. So far this week, Oklahoma has experienced two such earthquakes near Jones and Spencer.

“We have to make sure that not only are the bridges safe, but the roadway as well, as we check for cracks,” said Kenna Carmon, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in northeast Oklahoma. Inspectors travel at night and during weekends until all areas within the quake’s radius are checked, Carmon said.

Robert Stem, the executive director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, said additional shaking can threaten a bridge that’s already deteriorating.

“A teetering bridge might have a life span of 10 years before it needs to be fixed, but following a quake, that time might be cut in half,” Stem said.

ODOT’s Carmon told The Journal Record that state transportation officials are talking with their counterparts in California about the effect that earthquakes have on roads and bridges. Carmon said it’s too soon to know whether design changes will be needed to reinforce Oklahoma’s bridges and roads.

“We are getting their thoughts about how to handle an emergency during an earthquake,” Carmon said.

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