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Oklahoma is moving closer to achieving manageable bridge conditions, according to a Tulsa World analysis. Approximately 22 percent of the roughly 23,700 highway
Oklahoma is moving closer to achieving "manageable" bridge conditions, according to a Tulsa World analysis. Approximately 22 percent of the roughly 23,700 highway bridges in Oklahoma are structurally deficient, according to 2011 National Bridge Inventory data. A World analysis comparing the most recent information with data from 2005 shows a significant improvement. Earlier data show approximately 30 percent of structures, or nearly 1,700 additional bridges, were structurally deficient. Statewide, the percent of functionally obsolete bridges remained approximately 6 percent in 2005 and 2011, data shows. The number of functionally obsolete bridges decreased by 77 structures over the time period. Functionally obsolete bridges are structures that do not meet current design standards. States must keep data on all highway bridges and submit that information to the Federal Highway Agency, which maintains the National Bridge Inventory. Entities in charge of bridge maintenance inspect and assign statuses to the structures for which they are responsible. County highway agencies, ODOT and city or municipal highway agencies are responsible for the majority of highway bridges in Oklahoma. In 2005 the state Legislature established the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund, which appropriated state funds to improve Oklahoma's deteriorating bridge and highway system. Before 2005, only federal dollars were available for capital improvement projects, ODOT Chief Engineer Gary Evans said. "We may have been one of the only states in the country not investing in our infrastructure," Evans said. "You can imagine the condition of our system." Structurally deficient bridges can carry legal loads but have an issue that makes them unable to carry overload permit weights, Evans said. The bridges are not dangerous, he said. Structurally deficient bridges are inspected more frequently than the federally mandated twoyear maximum between inspections, usually yearly or every six months, Evans said. The bridges do restrict heavier vehicles, forcing some commercial trucks, school buses and passenger vehicles to reroute, Evans said. "It can be very detrimental and cause a lot of user cost," Evans said. Rust is one reason bridges become structurally deficient, he said. After many years steel beams will begin to rust, which reduces their thickness. Steel plates would need to be welded to beams to repair the bridges. 2370
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