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April Transportation Commission Wrap-Up

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

ODOT to do detailed study on earthquakes’ effect on bridges; $89 million in contracts approved

April 8, 2015
PR# 15-018

Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, April 6 meeting include recognition of Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews with the best safety records last year, a report on the deteriorating pavement conditions on highways statewide after this past winter, selection of an engineering firm to perform a detailed earthquake study, a briefing on the emergency closure of a SH-83 bridge in LeFlore County and approval of contracts for major projects on US-169 in Tulsa County, US-77 in Edmond and I-40 in Midwest City.

Oklahoma’s temperamental weather has sped up the deterioration of the state’s aging highway pavement, commissioners learned. Highway surfaces are exceeding their expected lifespans at the same time that traffic is at an all-time high on Oklahoma’s very large highway system. This past winter’s numerous freeze-and-thaw cycles caused these pavement surfaces to expand and contract, further damaging the worn-out roadways. While ODOT crews are working quickly to patch potholes, the long-term fix for many highways will require complete pavement reconstruction or major rehabilitation. Since 2005, ODOT has remained committed to an aggressive program to address all remaining structurally deficient highway bridges, while overall spending on pavement needs has remained flat.

“Once our bridges are in a manageable condition, we plan to commit more resources to pavements,” Patterson said. “That means ODOT will need consistent funding for a long-term asset preservation strategy to keep these highways from deteriorating again and undoing the gains we’ve made in recent years.”

Due to increased seismic activity in recent years, ODOT will be taking an in-depth look at earthquakes and their effect on Oklahoma’s bridge infrastructure. The commission awarded a $570,000 contract for an engineering consultant to create a formal inspection protocol and evaluate how highway bridges react to Oklahoma’s earthquakes, among other tasks. The agency’s current procedure is to inspect bridges in a 5-mile radius of the epicenter after an earthquake with a 4.0 or greater magnitude. While ODOT has not found any damage due to earthquakes since 2011 and does not believe the state’s bridges are in any eminent danger from earthquakes, this detailed study will create a formal inspection policy and help the agency be thoroughly prepared.

Highway crews with the best safety records in 2014 were recognized during presentation of ODOT’s annual safety awards. Executive Director Mike Patterson noted that in the past two decades, the total number of employee injury accidents at ODOT has declined by more than 72 percent.

Commissioners also heard about a plan to reopen a SH-83 bridge over the Kansas City Southern Railroad near Poteau in LeFlore County. The bridge was closed to traffic on March 27 after ODOT maintenance workers who were filling potholes found extensive deterioration underneath the structure. Emergency repairs are currently underway and expected to be completed by May 1. The bridge was built in 1937 and carries about 2,300 vehicles each day.

The commission voted to award a contract with a $45 million total bid that includes financial incentives to widen the US-169 corridor and replace several bridges from near 56th St. North to near 66th St. North in Tulsa County. This includes replacement of the outdated truss bridges over Bird Creek.

They also approved contracts for several projects to improve traffic movement in the Oklahoma City metro area. A nearly $5 million project will modify the intersection of US-77 (Broadway Extension) and 33rd St. in Edmond with the addition of dedicated turn lanes, medians and new traffic signals. The I-40 on and off-ramps at Air Depot Blvd. and Town Center Dr. by Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City will receive new signage and a high friction surface course, which is a pavement treatment to help create better traction on roadway surfaces.

In all, commissioners awarded 33 contracts totaling more than $89 million to improve bridges, highways, interstates and roads in 25 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Beckham, Canadian, Carter, Cleveland, Creek, Dewey, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Haskell, Johnston, Logan, McClain, McCurtain, Marshall, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Rogers, Sequoyah, Stephens and Tulsa counties.

The eight-member panel, appointed by the governor to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards project contracts for road and bridge construction every month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 4 at 11 a.m. in the R.A. Ward Transportation Building in Oklahoma City.

Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at


SH-132 Garfield County

The deterioration of Oklahoma’s highway pavement has accelerated, partly due to the most recent winter season, members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission learned during a report at their Monday, April 6 meeting. Many worn-out highways like SH-132 in Garfield County, pictured here, have exceeded their expected lifespan and are in need of reconstruction or major rehabilitation as drivers suffer bumpy rides.

SH-83 bridge in LeFlore County

At their Monday, April 6 meeting, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission heard a report on the poor conditions that resulted in the emergency closure of the SH-83 bridge over the Kansas City Southern Railroad near Poteau in LeFlore County. Emergency repairs are currently underway and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation expects the bridge to be reopened by May 1.

US-169 bridges at Bird Creek

Improvements are coming to the US-169 corridor in Tulsa County, thanks to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s approval of a major construction contract with a $45 million total bid that includes financial incentives. The project will widen the US-169 corridor and replace several bridges from near 56th St. North to near 66th St. North in Tulsa County, including the twin truss bridges over Bird Creek.


(Editors and News Directors: For more information, call the ODOT Media and Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)

Last Modified on Oct 23, 2020
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