ODOT Says It's 'Revolutionizing' Bridge Building In Oklahoma

Friday, September 19th 2014, 7:46 pm
By: Tess Maune

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said it's revolutionizing bridge building. It said it's found the secret to speeding up the process, but it is slow, only an inch or so at a time.

Crews are replacing a bridge right now just west of Mannford, and engineers said it has never been done this way in the state.

It's more common on the east and west coasts, and the process is all to help drivers. The project would typically take six months, but with the new technology, it's set to only take 21 days.

It's the talk of the town, as more than 500 tons of concrete are slowly sliding into place near Mannford.

“How do you move a bridge, ya know,” asked Mannford resident, Billy Cole. “When I was a little boy, the bridges were mostly wood, you know.”

It's a construction project that beats all Cole has ever seen.

“We just know they're doing it, but we don't know how,” he said. “A bridge being moved, to me that's an impossibility.”

ODOT has been working for nearly a year to replace the Cottonwood Creek bridge without having to close a section of Highway 51, until now.

ODOT Construction Engineer, Mark Zishka said, “The more you can do to reduce the construction time the less you'll impact the motorist going to work."

Zishka said crews actually built the new bridge beside the old one, so the road could stay open for drivers.

Then on Monday, workers tore down the tattered bridge and started using hydraulics to push the new one into its place.

It only took construction workers a couple of days to move the first two bridge decks into place, now they're working on the third center piece.

They have to move it about 40 feet and it's a slow, tedious process, it only moves about an inch per minute.

The decks are sliding across plastic and onto beams that were built ahead of the move.

“It's essentially the same bridge as what you'd have if you built it right on site and in location,” Zishka said.

While the end result is the same, the way it's all done could be the future of bridge replacements in Oklahoma.

Cole thinks it's pretty cool.

“I think it's a great idea, myself,” he said.

Drivers won't have to take the 40 mile detour for too long. The project should be finished by October 5th.

Engineers said they wanted to try a rural highway first because there's less traffic.