Plans To Replace Bridge Involved In Crash That Killed NSU Students

Thursday, September 21st 2017, 6:42 pm
By: Emory Bryan

There are plans to replace a bridge where five Northeastern State University students died in a crash Sunday.

The man designing the new bridge said there's no comparison between the safety of the old bridge and what could be in place next year.

Cherokee County built the original bridge over the Barron Fork of the Illinois sometime in the 1960s.

Though engineers said the bridge remains sound, they believe it's dangerous because of two sharp turns on either end.

9/18/2017 Related Story: NSU Remembers Students Killed In Crash

"Back years ago when bridges were built they're going to go the shortest route, they didn't have much money," said Scott Brian, of Eastern Oklahoma Circuit Engineering District.

Now, after the death of those students, the county hopes to replace the bridge as soon as possible. 

For now they've patched the spot where the pickup went over, after it first hit a guardrail on the sharp turn leading onto the bridge.

The new bridge will be wider and longer, with higher guard rails that will make it safer.

The new bridge will cross the river diagonally, eliminating the 90-degree turns in the road.

For the replacement, the county hopes to speed up permitting and give the contractor incentives to work quickly.

"Right now it's scheduled for about 250 days, but we may try to squeeze that down and get it done quicker," said Terry Eddings, bridge engineer.

Design drawings show a new modern concrete bridge that will cross the river without sharp turns in the road.

At the earliest, the project could go out for bids in January.

There won't be any comparison between the safety of the old bridge and the new bridge.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating the crash and has not released a cause.