ODOT Concerned About Earthquakes' Effect On Oklahoma Bridges

Tuesday, April 8th 2014, 7:16 pm

It seems like barely a day goes by without an earthquake in our state. In fact, last week Oklahoma had 11 percent of all the earthquakes in the world.

That has the state Department of Transportation concerned about bridges and how they are holding up.

"It certainly has had our attention," Terri Angier, ODOT's chief of media and public relations, said.

So much so, that after every major quake the Oklahoma Department of Transportation checks the bridges within a five to 10 mile radius of the epicenter.

"We dispatch inspectors and our own crews to do a visual inspection to see if there's anything that may catch their attention to take a closer look." Angier said.

"We don't know what it's doing to the roadways, more specifically we don't know what it's doing to our bridges," ODOT Director Mike Patterson told transportation commissioners yesterday.

Patterson was briefing commissioners on a recent meeting with earthquake experts and engineers from California.

"If this is the new norm for Oklahoma, we need to get on board with how to design bridges that can withstand possibly THE earthquake."

Angier said Oklahoma bridges are already designed to withstand some vibrations, but over the next couple months ODOT will look see if that is enough. If engineers determine changes are necessary, the next step would likely be to hire a consultant that would advise them on how to make bridges more earthquake proof.

Angier said inspectors only found damage to a bridge one time and that was after the Prague earthquake.