New Details Surrounding SkyDance Bridge Closure

Wednesday, September 17th 2014, 11:00 pm
By: News 9

The orange cones went up, and the SkyDance Bridge was closed.

It's a beauty at night when lit up, but there are some not-so beautiful problems gaining more attention than the colored lights that light up the massive structure.

On Wednesday, the bridge was closed to all traffic after the wood buckled so much, you couldn't step over it. The steel frame of the bridge isn't compromised, but the wood across the walking area is. 

News 9 contacted the contractor of the bridge, Manhattan Road and Bridge Construction Group, and they told us, of all the bridges they've built, they've never used this type of wood. As for the lack of expansion that clearly caused the buckling, they said they followed plans drawn up by the architect.

9/17/2014 Related Story: OKC SkyDance Bridge To Temporarily Close

We called the designer of the bridge, Butzer Gardner Architects, but nobody got back with us. News 9 also contacted a handful of contractors, and not one had ever used glulam, which is the type of compressed wood used on the walkway. So, we went straight to the source, Forest Building Materials, which sells glulam wood. It's typically used indoors in large homes or churches. Use on a bridge is unique.

We learned glulam is basically 2x4s or 2x6s of wood that are glued together in a series, stacked, compressed and high pressured. The final product is very strong, but on the bridge, that strength was split.

“It basically got pressure at the bottom and pressure at the top, and some place has to go," said Michael Taylor of Forest Building Materials. "So they start to come apart at the glue points. They start to buckle, because they're growing, and it's splitting at that joint.”

9/15/2014 Related Story: SkyDance Bridge Suffers Structural Problems

Treated glulam is a greenish/gray color, and on the SkyDance Bridge, there are hints of it, but the wood must be preserved and treated properly or any warranty would be void and so would the integrity. The type of buckling on the bridge can happen even when wood is treated, especially given some of the weather elements in Oklahoma. 

News 9 also contacted the City of Oklahoma City about the cost of the repair, but officials don't have one yet. City crews will perform the work.