Oklahoma Bridges No Longer Ranked Worst in Nation

Monday, November 9th 2009, 10:14 pm
By: News 9

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Road Information Program is a national non-profit group that keeps tabs on our nation’s roads and bridges. In 2006, TRIP ranked Oklahoma the worst in the nation when it came to deficient bridges.

"We were not proud of the condition of our infrastructure,” said ODOT spokeswoman Terri Angier.

Three years later, TRIP said Oklahoma now ranks second in the nation for bad bridges. But Angier said ODOT’s numbers indicate Oklahoma ranks fourth in the nation. While neither ranking is something to be proud of, Angier said at least the ranking is moving in the right direction.

The state is home to 6,800 state highway bridges.

When Oklahoma was ranked worst in the nation, numbers showed 1,600 bridges were deficient. In the last three years, the number has fallen to 1,430.

While the number is an improvement, 200 additional bridges have been found deficient in the same time period.

It’s a game of catch up that Angier said Oklahoma needs to win, but national and state budget concerns threaten the progress.

"We are extremely lean in the department so these budget cuts start to mean something on the roads and on the bridges and that’s why we are concerned. We truly need to start getting a grasp on this issue and some momentum so that we can handle the next round that will become 80-years-old in the next five years," Angier said.

The bright spot in Oklahoma's progress on bad bridges is in the load posted bridge category. Load posted bridges are structures where maximum weight levels are posted.

The bridges were of top concern, because they were forcing emergency vehicles and school buses to take costly detours. At the time of Oklahoma’s low rating, there were 150 such bridges. Just three years later, 112 of those have been fixed. The rest are either under construction or slated to be repaired.