Log Jam Threatens Bridge Over Bird Creek

Monday, May 5th 2008, 7:03 pm
By: News On 6

A massive log jam is causing all sorts of problems on Bird Creek.  The News On 6's Chris Wright reports thousands of pounds of debris from December's ice storm are clogging a stretch of the creek in Tulsa County.

Officials say the log jam is causing erosion problems, and if not removed, it could threaten a heavily-used bridge.

The debris backup beneath the bridge near 66th Street North off of Highway 75 is massive.  It's so big; in fact, it can easily support the heavy equipment that is working to get rid of it.

"It has to be done before any problems develop in this area," said Kenna Mitchell with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

ODOT says those problems are erosion-related.  Because of the log jam, water is being diverted around the debris, and is threatening the surrounding banks.  If the debris is not removed, officials worry the water could eventually erode the bridge's support structures, and threaten its integrity.

"That's why we've decided to come in, treat this as an emergency situation, and get it cleaned up as soon as we can," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

Making matters worse, recent heavy rains have swept more debris in from upstream, and the log jam has grown quickly.

All this debris has been piling up for months now.  It has all made its way downstream since the December ice storm.  It has also created what ODOT believes may be the biggest log jam in Tulsa history.

"They said it's also something pretty rare.  They don't remember seeing one this size before here in Tulsa," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

On Monday, ODOT awarded an emergency contract to an Oklahoma City-based construction firm.  The contractor will have 30 days to remove the more than 9,000 cubic yards of logs and limbs.  ODOT is confident they will get the job done, unless of course, there is more heavy rain, and more leftover debris swept downstream.

Engineers have checked the 66th Street bridge, and say it is structurally sound.  ODOT has also looked at every other major bridge in the Tulsa area.