Work on a state highway bridge slowed drivers on Monday as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation worked to repair a six-foot square hole that opened-up above Bird Creek. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports the bridge is on Route 66 in Rogers County near Catoosa.
ODOT says a driver noticed the hole Monday morning and called it in. It's becoming a familiar scene as spring approaches to see crews patching holes in another crumbling bridge.
The patchwork slowed traffic on Route 66 for several hours. ODOT says it's not uncommon for holes to develop here.
"It's wear and tear on the bridge, it's age on the bridge, and we've just had a very bad winter with freeze-thaw, freeze-thaw and that is taking a terrible toll on our bridges and roadways," said Kenna Mitchell with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The bridge was built in 1936 and has been declared structurally deficient and obsolete, since it was designed before modern day tractor-trailers. It's one of 1,600 crumbling bridges across the state.
"This has been a really bad couple of months as far as trying to maintain the roads and bridges," said Mitchell.
Just last Friday a softball sized hole appeared in a bridge over the Broken Arrow Expressway near downtown Tulsa. And two weeks ago another hole opened in the middle of an I 244 overpass.
The sister bridge of the one causing problems today was in the headlines in 2003. A piece of expansion joint broke through a woman's windshield and came within inches of striking her son in the face.
The bridge is scheduled to be replaced in four years. The cost for a new bridge can reach $3 million. ODOT says the best course of action, until then, is a little patchwork.
"It really comes down to funding and, like I said, we have it set to be replaced in 2012 and what we have to do is just maintain the bridges as best we can; keep it in good shape until we can get to that replacement," said Mitchell.
ODOT asks anyone who sees something wrong with a bridge to give them a call. The number is 838-9933. And, as always, they ask for drivers going through a work zone to slow down and look out for work crews.