A Tale Of Two Bridges

Tuesday, March 25th 2008, 11:40 pm
By: News On 6

It's a tale of two bridges with a common theme:  the need for more money to replace Oklahoma's bridges. The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports that, during last week's rainstorm, a key part of a bridge over Saline Creek washed away.

The creek is down now, but the rushing water of an eight inch rain washed away a 30 foot earthen ramp leading to the concrete bridge.

"Mother Nature took it out," said Mayes County Commissioner Melvin Pritchett.

With the bridge blocked off, the people who live nearby and children on school buses have to take an eight mile detour.

"Pretty crazy, I never thought it would do this," said resident James LittleDave.

The repair can't begin until the money is available.

"Engineer came out yesterday and her prediction on it was about $300 to $400,000 damage.  She's got to draw up some plans, and we're looking for money to fix it with," said Mayes County Commissioner Melvin Pritchett.

It's a common problem finding money to repair bridges, whether it's an emergency repair like this or a planned repair on a bridge like another that was almost 70 years old.

The other bridge in Rogers County wasn't affected by the high water.  It was taken out because a dangerous situation:  it had weakened to the point it could no longer hold a loaded school bus.

County Commissioner Mike Helm points out the beams from the old bridge that had rusted out.  The new bridge will be wider, longer and stronger.

"This right here to put the bridge in to put the piers in and everything will cost about $284,000," said Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm.

The new bridge will look like another one just upstream.  It's progress, though there are 52 other bridges in Rogers County alone that need replacing.

Rogers County only has the money to replace three bridges a year so at the current pace; it will take 17 years to get the job done.