Oklahoma Highway Officials Focus on Fixing Bad Bridges

September 11, 2014

Nearly half of the construction projects in a $6.3 billion plan Oklahoma highway officials approved this week are aimed at fixing bad bridges.

The eight-year plan was approved Monday and 935 of the 1,947 total projects target poor bridges, The Journal Record reported.

Highway officials are trying to reduce the number of structurally deficient highway bridges as close to zero as possible. In fiscal year 2013, the state had 468 bridges on the deficiency list, down from a high of 1,168 in 2004.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said one of the projects includes the bridge on US 77-State Highway 39, connecting Lexington and Purcell, that was closed for four months for emergency repairs after cracks were discovered in structural beams.

The department’s executive director, Mike Patterson, said the $36 million project is scheduled for fiscal year 2018.

“We would anticipate probably 18 months to complete it,” Patterson said.

Ray Sanders, with the department’s project management division, said the approved plan and the agency’s new asset preservation plan will drastically reduce the number of deficient bridges.

The asset preservation plan addresses highway and bridge preventative maintenance needs before they become critical and more costly to fix.

The plan also includes 725 miles of projects on highways and interstates with heavy traffic and almost 750 miles of shoulders and other improvements along two-lane highways.

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