ODOT Creates New System For Earthquake Inspections

Friday, April 1st 2016, 5:10 pm
By: Grant Hermes

After the U.S. Geological Survey released its new earthquake hazard map on Monday, saying nearly 7 million Oklahomans were at risk, ODOT officials revealed a new system for inspections of bridges.

“The desired outcome of that study was to look at our bridges, look at the earthquakes we were seeing in Oklahoma and help guide us through the process of knowing when we really need to go out and look at bridges,” ODOT Chief Engineer Casey Shell said.

The study, done with the help of the University of Oklahoma and private scientists, outlines a tiered system for when inspections should be done.

It starts at a 4.7 magnitude and says inspectors have to look at every bridge in a five mile radius. The system goes all the way to a 6.3, meaning ODOT would have to inspect every bridge within 120 miles.

Oklahoma roads and bridges have been problematic in the past.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, Oklahoma bridges received a D+ grade on the state's last report card.

It is one reason why Shell said the department will be keeping watch on bridges.

“We're going to continue to keep an eye on them because you never know when that's going to start,” he said.

ODOT has had to cut millions from its budget this year after multiple revenue failures.

Officials hope this new system will save money, even if earthquakes continue.

According to Shell, the new system will prevent unnecessary inspections.

Previously, the department would inspect for damages after lower magnitude earthquakes, yielding no results and costing the state money.

Shell said by establishing a system that better targets inspections, ODOT will save on inspection costs, even if earthquakes don’t decrease.

“Hopefully the earthquakes will reduce and the magnitude will go down over time, but we're going to continue to be cautious and continue to look at them each time there's an earthquake that causes us concern,” Shell said.