Bad Bridges Affecting Fire Engines

Thursday, October 23rd 2008, 9:51 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Did you know, Tulsa fire crews sometimes have to re-route their rescues to avoid several bridges that could collapse because a fire engine is just too heavy?

The News On 6 found a potential fix at the ballot box where Tulsans will soon decide if they're willing to pay for stronger streets.

For everyday drivers Riverside Drive can be the quickest way to get across town. But Tulsa firefighters actually avoid it, at least right here where the road crosses Crow Creek.

"Knowing that you have an emergency, whether a house fire or a medical emergency, knowing that there is a delay due to you having to take a little longer route, you can't go the most direct route or you have to make some kind of deviation, it can get kind of frustrating," said TFD Captain Michael Baker.

City engineers say fire trucks can drive over that bridge, but they've warned them it's very thin and designated as "structurally obsolete".

"But we actually have the fire trucks drive to the center of the lanes as they're going over that bridge," said City Engineer Paul Zachary.

That's why it has a posted weight limit of 15 tons. Not good for Tulsa's fire trucks which weigh anywhere from 12 tons to 33 tons. Their drivers say there are dozens of bridges, across the city, they know to avoid.

"There's some in North Tulsa. There's some in south, the southern parts of town where they have a culvert that maybe the culvert that drains water has an issue," said Baker.

Another bridge no one can use is the Boulder Bridge between 1st Street and Archer, downtown. It's on the city's list of repairs, if the two streets propositions pass on November 4th.

If the streets package passes, the plans are to demolish the bridge and build a new one, connecting downtown with the Brady District.

There are 17 bridges total on the city's list that would be either rehabbed or replaced at a price of $28 million. But first voters have to decide if the $451 million streets package will be worth it.

A sample ballot shows propositions one and two. There has been some confusion about which one does what.

Basically, proposition one is an extension of the third penny sales tax and the "4 to fix" tax and it would pay to fix Tulsa's main arterial streets.

Proposition two is the property tax increase which would pay to fix Tulsa's neighborhood streets and bridges.

They both add up to $451 million.

Mayor Kathy Taylor has said Tulsans would have to pass both propositions to deliver the projects the people have said they wanted.