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Opinion

October 9, 2013

Bridge repair goal still on the horizon

NORMAN — The state’s quest to repair or replace deficient bridges continues. Transportation commissioners this week pledged to finish the mission by the end of the decade.

That’s part of an eight-year, $6 billion plan to undertake 2,000 individual projects. The Associated Press reported that the plan includes 924 bridges and improving 657 miles of two-lane highways and 552 miles of high-volume highways and interstates.

Some of the state’s bridges were built in the horse and buggy days and still carry school buses. Contracts awarded this week will address 52 bridges, with 20 of them in the structurally deficient category.

Several of the bridges addressed in the approved plan are county bridges. Cleveland County has dozens of them, mostly in southern and eastern parts of the county.

Officials have made progress in addressing bad bridges since a 2005 report ranked Oklahoma’s bridges the nation’s worst. Earlier, a bridge collapse on Interstate 40 sent thousands of cars a day onto a deficient bridge while the I-40 span was rebuilt.

Lawmakers have ramped up funding and have cut the number of bridges by more than half since 2004.

Much of the new plan relies on federal funding. Projects already in the pipeline have the advantage, but a year could come when federal money goes elsewhere.

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