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State/Region

July 2, 2013

State improving number of poor state bridges

OKLAHOMA CITY — A new study shows Oklahoma ranks among the worst states in the nation for its total number of structurally deficient bridges, but Oklahoma transportation officials said Monday that the number of such bridges on the state highway system has been reduced.

The study by the Washington, D.C.-based Transportation for America shows Oklahoma has the second-highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges — 22.6 percent — among the 50 states. The study, which uses 2012 Federal Highway Administration data, shows 5,382 of the state’s nearly 24,000 bridges are structurally deficient, which means the bridge has a major defect in its deck or support structure.

Only Pennsylvania, with 24.5 percent of its bridges determined to be structurally deficient, ranked worse.

Transportation for America is a broad-based coalition with more than 500 partners, including individual cities and counties, as well as mayors, councilmembers and other elected officials. Its executive committee includes numerous environmental, transportation and housing groups.

But Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Mike Patterson said the number of bridges in the study includes all the bridges in Oklahoma. When it comes to state bridges only, the picture is dramatically better.

“Here in Oklahoma ... we were at 17 percent back in 2005,” Patterson said. “This year, because our structurally deficient bridges are now down to 8 percent of the total number of bridges on the highway system, it’s the first time I can recall that we’re helping to pull the average down.”

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