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Oklahoma launches rapid bridge-building program

Parts of a new bridge will be built next to an existing two-way bridge over Cottonwood Creek in Creek County. The method is expected to reduce the time motorists either will have to take a detour or be restricted to one lane from nine months to 21 days.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: December 3, 2012

Oklahoma is embarking on a new rapid bridge-building program that is expected to dramatically reduce the amount of time that motorists are delayed.

Parts or all of a new bridge would be built next to or near an existing bridge, and then scooted over to be assembled, state Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley told Oklahoma Transportation Commission members Monday. The process would be used on a project-by-project basis, and would be practical only in areas where enough space is available to build the structure nearby.

“You have to be careful about locations you can do it with,” Ridley told commissioners. “There's an inherent problem with trying to get it over a creek or a river.”

When told that Oklahoma's first rapid bridge-building project was over a creek, Ridley said: “Shoot. Well, I don't know how that's going to work out. I can't believe we're going to try a river crossing first.”

Commissioners approved a $3.8 million bid to Manhattan Road and Bridge Co. to use the accelerated bridge construction method to replace the nearly 300-foot-long State Highway 51 bridge over Cottonwood Creek in Creek County, west of Mannford.

“It will be very interesting to follow,” Ridley said after the meeting.

Randle White, division engineer for the Tulsa area, said motorists under normal construction practices would be affected adversely for the entire period of the nine-month project. Motorists would either be detoured 30 miles to another route or limited to one-lane traffic over the two-lane bridge, he said. The bridge handles about 4,000 vehicles a day.

Under the rapid bridge-building program, motorists will be rerouted for only 21 days, White said.

Construction on the project should start in the next 90 days. Because of the accelerated bridge-building approach, the overall time for the project is reduced from nine to six months, he said.

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