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Inspecting Area Bridges

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You might have seen an unusual piece of equipment on the bridges over the Arkansas River. The city of Tulsa is inspecting the underside of those bridges. It's not a hard job, but the News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports it does require a special truck called a snooper that can sit on the deck of the bridge and reach underneath it.

A two-man crew rides in the bucket. One works the hydraulic arm, the other inspects the bridge. Glenn Watkins has that job, which takes about a day under each bridge.

"We look for any deterioration on the girder or the girder ends, the soffit, the deck," said Watkins.

The arm on the snooper truck can move all around underneath and the truck can even drive forward with the men down below. Chris Cox, with the city, says it's the only way to do it.

"The bridges that are over the water, we can't look at the underside of them like we can the other bridges, so we use the snooper truck to get a close up view of the bridges," Cox said.

The city does an annual inspection of the river bridges from above, and last year the 71st Street bridge received a grade of 96. The 11th Street bridge was given an 86. The 21st Street bridge was lowest at 67%, but that's still considered safe.

Based on what the engineers find on the inspection of the bridge, the city will come back and do maintenance. It might be something as complicated as replacing the expansion joints between the concrete slabs, or something as simple as painting the rails.

"Because of these inspections, we're able to stay ahead of the problem and fix it before it gets worse," said Cox.

The inspector found nothing extraordinary underneath the 11th Street bridge, just the typical rust and wear and tear.

His results will be compared to the last inspection of the underside two years ago.

Because that's an unusual job, the city doesn't own that truck. They rent it out for three days so they can do each of the bridges over the river in Tulsa.

Watch the video: Checking Up On Local River Bridges
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