A “main” artery into Norman collapsed during Tuesday night’s storms, sending the road into the flooded creek below.
Contractors had just started working on the W Main Street bridge near Willoway Drive on Monday and were expected to be complete sometime in the late spring of 2019. Now they are rushing just to get the road open again.
“It’s quite an inconvenience for the residents,” says neighbor Victor McDaniel. “We’ll get over that, but probably even more so for the city and contractors to try to scramble, do things in a quicker was than they normally would have.”
The replacement project has been in the works since the 50-year-old bridge last collapsed in 2007. Public works director Shawn O'Leary admits the patch job was never supposed to hold up this long.
“Did not imagine at that time it would take us 10 years to get to the permanent solution and the permanent funding,” he says.
O’Leary says the collapse actually could not have been more timely with contractors preparing for demolition, which Mother Nature has now taken care of.
The plan was to keep two lanes open throughout construction, but now the city can choose to either pay to install a temporary passage in two weeks or finish the project as is in two months.
“The downside is we would have a four-lane major arterial road closed for 60 days and we don’t normally like to do that,” says O’Leary.
The problem now is the detour, which currently takes drivers up to three miles of the way to W Robinson Street to access homes and schools on the other side.
Locals just hope to soon see a new bridge that will hold up for decades to come.
“They knew it was going to happen,” McDaniel says, “and when you have something like this I don’t think it’s going to save them any money on the project. It’s probably going to cost them more.”
As city leaders meet with ODOT and the contractors to determine the impact of this collapse on their budget, the funding source for any additional cost to the project is yet to be determined.