River Continues To Threaten Land Along Triple X Road With No Solution In Sight
OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Oklahoma - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a study of erosion along the North Canadian River, as homeowners face not only the impacts of a road closure, but also threats of erosion to the homes themselves.
Triple X Road in eastern Oklahoma County has been closed for three years now. Neighbors are running out of patience, but a solution requires the collaboration of five different governments.
In summer 2013, the Buford family watched for weeks as their home fell piece by piece into the North Canadian River. Now, all that remains is the well pipe and a few bricks, and access to the Triple X Road address remains blocked.
“The county came in and closed the road and deemed it dangerous,” said Scott Manwell, who has lived along the river for more than 50 years. “Well, we’re 35 feet from the bank to the edge of the road. The river has not moved in two years.”
Saturday, Manwell goes two miles east or west of the road just to get from his home to his farmland each day. He uses another farmer's land to bypass the closure. While the neighbors wait for a fix, Doug Gragert fears his home will be the next to fall victim to the river's power.
“I’ve been here for 35 years,” says Gragert, who lives just south of a bend in the river. “I’ve built up a really nice place here and I could lose everything.”
The stretch of the river in question lies right in the middle of Choctaw, Harrah, unincorporated Oklahoma County and tribal land.
The Kickapoo tribe recently dedicated $450,000 to help redirect or stabilize the river, but first the Army Corps of Engineers has to conduct a $300,000 study to find the best answer.
To the west of Triple X Road, the City of Choctaw has to purchase a farmer’s private land if they want to slide the road to safety.
"To get the $300,000 funding was the first piece to make sure that we don’t build a new road, even if everybody participates on this side, that won’t just eventually get washed away,” County Commissioner Brian Maughan said.
Locals argue there are temporary solutions.
“We would like now to just hold the river to where it’s at and then open up the road to relieve the travel lanes on both sides two miles either way,” Manwell said.
In addition to the daily struggles of the road closure, emergency crews and mail carriers have also had to find alternate routes.
Maughan said one long-term solution may be to divert the river to its original course 800 feet east of its current location.