Oklahoma moves up to No. 7 in highway bridge conditions, keeps Top Ten State ranking
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 7, 2021
Press Release # 21-029
One year after becoming a Top Ten State for highway bridge conditions, Oklahoma has managed to keep the pace and run up the score – moving from No. 9 in the nation to No. 7 among states with the lowest percentages of structurally deficient bridges on the highway system in 2020.
Oklahoma was once near the bottom of the rankings, being as low as 49th place in 2004 when 1,168 of the 6,800 bridges or 17% of the structures maintained by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation were rated structurally deficient or poor. Thanks to more than a decade of continuous improvement, Oklahoma has only 67 structurally deficient bridges remaining on its system and keeps its Top Ten status, according to the latest inspection data from the Federal Highway Administration. Additionally, none of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s 873 bridges on the toll road network are structurally deficient.
“I’m proud of the turnaround we’ve accomplished to make and keep Oklahoma’s highway bridge conditions Top Ten,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Our bridge system has undergone remarkable changes that impact the safety and quality of life for all 4 million Oklahomans, and I’m thankful for the leadership from Secretary Gatz to keep us Top Ten.”
The remaining 67 structurally deficient bridges are either currently under construction or scheduled in ODOT’s Eight-year Construction Work Plan for replacement or major rehabilitation in the next few years. Significant projects currently under construction to replace structurally deficient bridges include work on I-40 in Del City, I-44 in southwest Oklahoma City and the Willis Bridge on US-377/SH-99 over the Red River/Lake Texoma. In the past year, deficient bridges were replaced on SH-11 over the BNSF Railway in Tulsa and SH-6 over I-40 in Elk City.
“Going from having the worst bridges to being among the best in the nation is an amazing achievement made possible thanks to the vision and commitment from Oklahoma’s leaders, including Gov. Stitt and the Legislature, to keep transportation a state priority,” Secretary of Transportation Gatz said. “Having Top Ten highway infrastructure keeps Oklahoma competitive in the national economy and improves safety and mobility for all drivers.”
Oklahoma Transportation will continue an aggressive bridge program to address the more than 1,000 bridges that are 80 years old while also adequately maintaining and preserving newer bridges to ensure Oklahoma maintains its Top Ten status.
“I really want to thank Oklahomans for their trust and patience through this effort,” Gatz said. “Hundreds of these projects in a relatively short time have caused a lot of inconvenience to drivers, but addressing these bridges means more Oklahoma Transportation resources are now going toward improving pavement conditions, adding shoulders to rural two-lane highways and tackling urban traffic congestion.”
This new No. 7 ranking applies to the bridges on Oklahoma’s highway system maintained by the state, which includes interstates, U.S. highways and state highways. Cities and counties are responsible for more than 16,000 bridges on local roads with other funding sources.
Cities and counties are encouraged to pursue available federal funding for bridge projects, as well as dedicated state funding through the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges program for the highest-priority county bridges.