Two-way traffic is continuing along the Bird Creek Bridge on West Main Street where workers have begun removing steel sections of the structure as part of a $3.5-million rehabilitation project.
Cutting out and removing the beams started late last week on the northern half of the 56-year-old bridge after the crumbling roadway decking had already been cleared. The steel supports spanning the 462-feet-long structure are to be replaced with concrete sections before a new surface is constructed.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials hope the process will alleviate weather-related pothole problems on the bridge, which is located just west of the downtown area. In recent years, the road surface woes have resulted in closure of one of the two lanes on each side of the bridge, which carries a twin designation as U.S. Highway 60 and Oklahoma Highway 11.
Prior to closing off the northern half of the bridge, workers spent several weeks repairing the southside lanes to allow for their use by both eastbound and westbound traffic during the current stage of the project. Once reconstruction on the northern half of the bridge is completed, the process will be repeated on the south side of the structure.
Under its contract with the state, Sherwood Construction Co. of Catoosa has been allotted 270 days for completing the work. The estimated total length of the project area is .0134 miles.
Rehabilitation work on the Bird Creek Bridge is to be followed by a similar project on the Clear Creek Bridge located just a few blocks to the west. At 262 feet, the bridge over the Clear Creek tributary is a little more than half as long as the one over Bird Creek. Both of the bridges were originally constructed in 1958, according to ODOT records.
The bridge improvement projects were approved by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission last year. They are part of multi-phased improvements that are being undertaken in the U.S. 60 corridor.
Major site clearing and utility relocation efforts are currently in progress along a nearly six-mile stretch of U.S. 60 beginning two miles east of its junction with Oklahoma Highway 99. The work is in preparation of nearly $37 million in improvements for which ODOT awarded a contract in December.
Sherwood Construction also was the winning bidder on that project, which will include widening of the roadway as well as the replacement of two bridges. There were 1,09o calendar days allotted for completion of work along the 5.821-mile section targeted for the improvements.