Tulsa County No. 1 in structurally deficient bridges in Oklahoma

Despite all the construction, there are currently more state-owned bridges in bad shape in Tulsa County than any other county in the state.

So 2News decided to investigate how the state plans to bridge the gap.

"We're busy in all parts of the city and county," said Gary Evans, ODOT's chief engineer.

Meaning, newly paved roads and bridges from all corners of Tulsa County. Still, despite all the work, there are about 100 state bridges in Tulsa County that are considered structurally deficient, meaning the bridge needs significant repair or replacement.

But that's just the beginning, the 2NEWS Investigators poured over state-owned bridge data and found Tulsa County has twice as many structurally deficient bridges when compared to all other counties in the state. One in five Tulsa County state-owned bridges is structurally deficient.

Statewide it's one in 10.

"It's really just the cycle of the age of the system that we have out there," Evans said.

A bridge ages out after 50 to 75 years so when you compare to Oklahoma City, "The highways in Oklahoma County are generally older than the highways in Tulsa County and so the highways in Oklahoma County have gone through the second generation of bridges, where Tulsa County is just now coming to that point," said Evans.

So get ready for more construction, and not just in Tulsa County either.

"One hundred percent of the structurally deficient bridges in Tulsa County and our state should be eliminated," said Sen. Gary Stanislawski, Oklahoma Transportation Committee chair.

The legislature recently passed a bill aimed at fixing or replacing the more than 600 structurally deficient bridges located statewide over the next eight years.

Click on the image below to see ODOT's eight-year plan. (http://bit.ly/S9QqDz)

But it hasn't been easy.

"Originally, the additional funding to the roads fund did have a triggering mechanism that has been removed by the state legislature. Right now, we feel like the funding is firm and will continue to come to the department for those bridge needs," said Evans.

Stanislawski is confident the commitment will stand despite economic concerns.

"I believe we will continue to have a higher level of funding for our bridges and our roads," he said. "If we hit another recession it may decline somewhat," he said.

Either way, ODOT is eager to bridge the funding gap and rid it's backlog, but it may mean more orange barrels for the foreseeable future.

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