OKLAHOMA COUNTY - Oklahoma County commissioners have voted to permanently close a half-mile portion of Triple X Rd., citing concerns of potential collapse.
According to District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan, erosion has continually impacted the stretch of roadway caused by the North Canadian River.
"This is sort of like a rick of wood. You hit that right pressure point, and it would split right down the middle and it could come in larger chunks than six inches, which is what I’ve witnessed, but it could be even larger gulps than that," Maughan said.
Oklahoma County engineer Stacey Trumbo said the erosion is caused by the migration of the river. In the past 12 years, it's moved about 550 feet to the west. In 2013, it gobbled a home in its path.
"All rivers move, but nothing to do the extent of this river. I don’t know what’s going on with it, but the dynamics of it in the last 10 years… there’s been significant movement that we haven’t seen," Trumbo said.
Without closure, Maughan said roadway collapse would have been inevitable. Aside from being dangerous to everyday motorists, he said gas lines underneath the road are a concern.
"These lines were not buried at depths that could withstand heavy equipment rolling over them so, again, some magic moment, we could see an explosion or wildfire," he said.
The problem is complicated because of split jurisdictions in the area.
In order to address the issue of irregular river movement, the riverbed and its course would need to be redirected. According to Maughan, the Army Corps of Engineers grants permits for any redirecting of the riverbed and its course.
Richard Bilinksi is a project manager with the Army Corps of Engineers. According to Bilinksi, their goal is to conduct as little disturbance as possible to the riverbed. He also added the least expensive option would be to build a new, connecting road in lieu of this closure.
Relocating Triple X Road to the east would allow for the entire strip to be reopened; however, Maughan said a potential new route overlaps the land under the jurisdiction of Oklahoma City and the City of Choctaw. State law forbids counties from doing road work within the city limits of any community with more than 5,000 people in population like Choctaw.
We spoke to Choctaw City Manager Ed Brown on Thursday who said it's too soon to make any decisions what's next; however, he says the city looks forward to working with the county.
Maughan said he will continue to work with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and local governments to search for a solution. He admits high costs and multiple jurisdictions don't promise a solution anytime soon.