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Millions of federal dollars will help replace aging, undersized bridges in Northwestern Oklahoma

A view through a bridge with metal trusses.
Rhys Martin
National Parks Service

Northwestern Oklahoma will receive federal funds to replace seven rural bridges the Federal Highway Administration says are crucial for economic growth.

Those funds will go to Oklahoma Circuit Engineering District 8, part of a state government-appointed commission that aims to manage and improve transportation. This grant will cover $11.5 million of the $15 million needed to overhaul seven bridges in Garfield, Grant, Kingfisher, Major, Noble and Woods counties.

These bridges, which support 2,800 vehicles each day, are all in poor or fair condition. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s funding announcement, these seven bridges have deficient height clearances and load-bearing capacities, posing issues for hulking agricultural and industrial vehicles.

“The grant awards we’re announcing today are helping communities of all sizes modernize their bridges so that school buses, delivery trucks, ambulances, and commuters can get where they need to go quickly and safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release.

The money comes from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. On Thursday, the Biden-Harris administration announced the grant for Northwestern Oklahoma as part of a $300 million investment in small bridges across the country.

Late last year, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation received Bipartisan Infrastructure money to improve Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, which spans almost 5,000 feet over Lake Texoma between Kingston and Durant. In its description for that project, ODOT said the 80-year-old bridge is “functionally obsolete and at risk of falling into poor condition and becoming structurally deficient.” The Biden-Harris administration allocated about one-third of the $3 million needed to update the bridge.

Oklahoma’s bridges have received major improvements over the past two decades. In 2004, it ranked 49th in the nation for highway bridge conditions; in 2021, the state had climbed to number 7. It’s still home to 22 structurally deficient bridges and more than 450 that ODOT lists as “at risk.”

Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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