Recycling of steel beams from old Crosstown Expressway is going better than expected

More beams from the old elevated roadway in Oklahoma City are in good shape and eligible to be used for county bridges, state transportation director says.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: August 6, 2012 at 11:20 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012

Steel beams from the old elevated Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway in Oklahoma City are in better shape than originally thought, meaning more will be recycled to build county bridges across Oklahoma, state transportation commissioners were told Monday.

About 1,800 steel beams that ran parallel with the traffic underneath the roadway on the old Crosstown will likely be used to build about 300 county bridges, state Transportation Department Director Gary Ridley said.

Ridley said 1,600 beams have been taken down from the old Crosstown, and about 1,350 beams have been shipped to 22 storage areas across the state since deconstruction of the 50-year-old Crosstown structure began in January. Early estimates indicated 1,500 beams could be used for county bridges.

Part of the $12.4 million demolition contract calls for salvaging as many as possible of the approximately 1,900 steel beams under the deck of the nearly two-mile long elevated Crosstown. Those deemed safe are made available at no cost to counties.

Most of the beams are 33 inches thick and will be at least 50 feet long. A typical county bridge that spans 50 feet would use five beams; estimated value of each beam is about $8,000. Counties must have enough money to pay for the other costs of building a bridge.

Funding increases

Legislation signed into law this year increases state funding in the county road and bridge improvement program.

Beginning in January, the program will receive a 0.5 percent increase in the allocation of motor vehicle fees, bringing the total allocation to 15.5 percent.

In July, a 2.5 percent increase will raise the total allocation to 18 percent, and in July 2014, a 2 percent increase will bring the allocation to 20 percent. Each 1 percent increase will generate about $6.2 million in additional funding each year, resulting in an increase of nearly $30 million when fully implemented.

The additional money will help counties to reuse the bridge beams from the old Crosstown.

The elevated Crosstown had undergone repeated emergency repairs over the years. A crack was discovered in 1989 in one of the pier beams; no problems have been found with the beams that will be given to counties. About 250 beams that were installed across the Crosstown are in poor shape and won't be recycled; the contractor likely will sell the nonusable beams for scrap.

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