Osage County Drivers, Emergency Personnel Affected By Highway 11 Bridge Work

Saturday, July 7th 2012, 10:21 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma 11 is a crucial stretch of road for some people who live in Osage County.

In fact, it's the only straight shot from Barnsdall to Pawhuska.

Starting Saturday, a stretch of the highway is closed in both directions as workers work to replace a bridge that may be unsafe for drivers.

As drivers approach Barnsdall, it's clear that construction is looming ahead.

"Everybody's very concerned about it," Pershing Rural Fire Department Chief Chuck Hall said.

But they don't seem concerned that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says an 87-year-old bridge is "structurally deficient"

They're worried drivers will not be able to travel from Barnsdall to Pawhuska.

And since Pawhuska's ambulance services respond to calls in Barnsdall, Hall said closing the road is going to cause some huge problems.

"If something bad were to happen, we can take care of the grass fire end, but as far as ambulance service goes, it'll be a little tough," Hall said. "We'll have to work with other people to get them in here."

ODOT is urging people to use alternate routes -- like State Highway 123, U.S. Highway 60 and State Highway 99.

This would mean drivers in Barnsdall would have to pass through Bartlesville to get to and from Pawhuska.

But Hall is worried people will not want to waste the extra time and instead they'll find county roads.

"It's so dry right now and there's so much dust on these roads," Hall said. "What we're scared of is we're going to have a wreck out here and then another wreck and this dust and that's a real concern."

ODOT said heavy rain in June caused parts of the bridge's walls and embankment to wash away.

Since then, it has used a temporary fix that allowed drivers to continue to use the popular highway.

ODOT said this roadwork should last about two months.

It's a $685,000 project.