Exposed Expansion Joint Damages Several Cars On U.S. 169

Thursday, August 20th 2015, 7:12 pm
By: News On 6

It was chaos for drivers on U.S. Highway 169 on Thursday after a metal piece of the bridge came loose.

At least a dozen vehicles were damaged by the exposed expansion joint.

The southbound right-hand lane was blocked for at least two hours -- first from damaged cars, then from crews working to fix it.

ODOT crews scrambled to repair an exposed expansion joint.

"It scared me to death,” Leslie Porter said. “I've never had anything happen like this before, and I just got new tires back in November or December. And it's like, really??”

8/20/2015 Related Story: Vehicles Damaged By Highway 169 Expansion Joint

Leslie Porter was on her way to work when she noticed a few other cars off the roadway changing tires.

She says she thought there had been an accident, not realizing she was headed straight for the problem.

“I was doing 60, getting ready to come off the freeway and that's when it happened,”  and you know I heard this big old thump, thump and you know like when you run over something and it hits the bottom of your car? That's what I thought it was."

A metal expansion joint went right into both her driver’s side tires, causing two flats in seconds.

She says by the time she realized what happened, she saw other cars behind her do the same thing.

Eleven vehicles and one 18 wheeler all hit the exposed joint, puncturing tires, oil pans and other damage.

“We dispatched crews and during that few minutes we started realizing that it was a much bigger issue than just a few rocks that were on the highway," ODOT’s Martin Stewart said.

Once crews got to the problem, the repair took about an hour.

As for the cause? Crews say it is wear and tear.

“That corridor, 169 through rush hour and daily traffic it has quite a large traffic count, it's at one of our highest,” Stewart said.

Drivers affected already have started making claims with the state.

“We have spoken to quite a few already that were involved this morning, and we've started the trek to get them going on their claim," said.

As for Leslie, she says right now she's looking at around $1,200 in repairs, but she is happy things weren't worse.

“No one got hurt and that's the main thing," she said.

ODOT says while it often has to make emergency repairs on Oklahoma roads, this particular problem isn’t common.