Oklahoma bridges go from worst to best; State nabs Top 10 ranking
Oklahoma highway bridge conditions are making the grade by moving from among the worst in the nation to the head of the class, achieving Top 10 status for the first time by ranking ninth, according to the latest data from the Federal Highway Administration.
The state was as low as 49th place in 2004 in national bridge condition rankings due to the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system.
“Top Ten isn’t just a slogan — it is the vision that helps form and guide our road map to improving state government and changing the future of all 4 million Oklahomans for the better,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “Transportation is the backbone of the economy, and this designation shows Oklahoma is a new national leader in highway bridge infrastructure thanks to the dedication of ODOT employees and an unprecedented investment in our bridges by the Legislature.”
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation embarked in 2005 on a massive effort to improve highway bridges after decades of under funding to transportation infrastructure took a toll, causing a backlog of critically needed projects. A targeted approach to fixing bridges began taking shape through a series of legislative funding mechanisms and identifying key funding opportunities by the congressional delegation.
“This overhaul on our highway bridges took more than 15 years and has only been possible thanks to the consistent vision and support of our governors, legislators and congressional delegates,” Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said. “We also have to thank Oklahomans for making transportation a priority. With significant citizen support this issue rose to the top of state needs. This unprecedented program was only possible with a united focus on Oklahoma’s future.”
Bridges in Oklahoma – Key Facts
- Value of highway system in Oklahoma is $60 billion, making it Oklahoma’s No. 1 physical asset.
- In 2004, nearly 1,200 of Oklahoma’s 6,800 highway bridges were considered structurally deficient, meaning they showed signs of needing major rehabilitation or replacement.
- This momentum took an even more aggressive approach in 2011, when the “Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization Plan” was announced. One of its goals was to specifically reduce the structurally deficient highway bridges to 1 percent and have a manageable bridge system by the end of the decade.
- Today, 86 highway bridges are now considered as structurally deficient, based on bridge inspection data submitted to the FHWA by states for its 2019 report. Each of those remaining bridges is already scheduled for improvements through ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Plan.
- Off-system bridges on city streets or county roads are separately maintained by local governments, which account for an additional 16,000 structures statewide that have their own critical needs and funding challenges.
- National studies often combine the highway and off-system bridges into one lump overview, but it’s important to note this new ranking is for the highway system.
The department will diligently look for ways to continue to address older bridges through consistent planning and preservation efforts to ensure that Oklahoma maintains its Top 10 bridge condition status, Gatz said.
More information about upcoming bridge and pavement projects may be found online at https://www.odot.org.
Gov. Kevin Stitt and Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz, left, announced Thursday that Oklahoma has moved into the Top 10 in nationwide good bridge conditions. Oklahoma now ranks ninth in the nation after more than 15 years of targeted efforts to decrease the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system.
The green dots on this map shows the progress made by ODOT since 2004 in replacing or rehabilitating nearly 1,600 structurally deficient bridges since 2004. The red dots represent the remaining 86 structurally deficient bridges, many of which are already awarded for construction or are scheduled in ODOT's Eight-Year Construction Plan to be addressed.