City Engineer: 'Tulsa Bridges Are Rather Healthy'

Friday, May 20th 2016, 10:52 pm
By: News On 6

It could take two months to repair the collapsed May Avenue Bridge in Oklahoma City.

While a truck caused that damage, Oklahoma's road and bridge conditions are ranked some of the worst in the country.

The City of Tulsa is responsible for inspecting nearly 270 bridges. Depending on the type of bridge, it's checked every one or two years.

The May Avenue Bridge collapsed after a too tall semi tried to drive under it. Tulsa city engineer Matt Liechti said an accident like that could happen anywhere.

5/20/2016 Related Story: OKC Public Works Director Updates May Ave. Bridge Situation

"It's really more of a matter, probably, of speed and size of the vehicle that hits the bridge. You can have a very healthy bridge, and if it's hit at the right speed by a large enough vehicle you can do some severe damage to it," he said.

Liechti said the City of Tulsa has made substantial investments over the years to ensure the quality of the 268 bridges engineers oversee.

The city-wide bond for road improvements lasts through 2019 and the sales tax issue lasts through 2021.

"The Tulsa bridges are rather healthy,” Liechti said. “In the 2005 and 2006 sales tax we invested about $10 million in each one of those programs toward the bridges."

As required, every city bridge is inspected at least once every two years - bridges over water are checked once every year.

Liechti said, "Any accident could happen, but that would have to be an accident, not just a bridge being of age."

He said while the thought of a bridge falling is scary, he's confident the city's bridges will hold up.

As for the May Avenue Bridge, crews are expected to continue clearing that out this weekend.