Bridge Over Keystone Dam To Close For Complete Rebuild

Monday, September 9th 2013, 9:59 pm
By: Tess Maune

A 50-year-old bridge is getting a complete overhaul, which means drivers will have to find a new route for more than a year.

The Highway 151 bridge over the Keystone Dam will close for construction at the end of October.

Drivers say it will be an inconvenience while it's shut down, but the payoff in the end is worth it.

"There is a lot of pot holes and stuff," said Prue resident Austin Dennis.

Dennis makes that bumpy ride on a regular basis.

"It's real rugged, you definitely feel every bump and everything," he said.

The bridge crosses the Arkansas River. It's a shortcut for drivers, who are trying to get from northern Creek County to Highway 412, or vice versa.

Engineer Adam Smith said nearly 7,500 vehicles cross the bridge every day.

"Really, the trucks are the biggest concern, in terms of what the bridge actually experiences," Smith said.

You can see where the bridge has been patched and re-patched, but the wear and tear is just too much for the 50-year-old bridge.

"We have noticed over the last few years that the rehabilitation that has occurred is not as effective as a full deck replacement," Smith said.

Corroded steel beams and crumbling concrete show the damage below the bridge. From the catwalk that runs under the bridge, you can see the chunks of concrete that have fallen.

The Army Corps of Engineers' 3D models show what the future holds for the historic bridge. The entire bridge will be torn apart and rebuilt using concrete.

Aside from a smoother drive, Smith said the most noticeable change will be the guardrails.

"So the bridge that we'll have now, it's similar, but different, and better guardrail system, so that will be difference that people will notice on the new bridge," Smith said.

Of course, until the bridge reopens, what drivers will notice the most is the change to their daily commutes.

"It's gonna be a little bit longer of a drive into town, definitely," Dennis said. "Yeah, it'll be worth it in the long run."

Engineers say the bridge is still safe to drive on, but has reached the end of its useful life. The bridge is expected to be closed for 13 months. Until that's finished, the best route to take would be Highway 51 west, or to continue on 412 to Highway 48.

The dam will remain fully functional throughout the construction process.

The project will cost $15.6 million. About $10 million of that comes from federal funding. The other $6 million will be paid for by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.