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“It’s kind of scary,” Agency paying $500,000 to investigate how earthquakes affect bridges

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OKLAHOMA CITY -  A state agency says there are new concerns over earthquakes harming  bridges across the state.

Terri Angier, with the Oklahoma Department Of Transportation, says the dramatic increase in earthquakes across the state is raising concerns about the safety of the state's infrastructure.

However, ODOT officials don't have all of the details on how the earthquakes affect bridges.

"Because it's an unknown, it's kind of scary," Angier said.

Officials say they are looking for answers, paying more than half a million dollars to an engineering company to find out what damage, if any, is being done.

"We've asked the consultant to look at three bridges as a case study," Angier said.

It's something ODOT wouldn't have even considered just 10 years ago.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, only 22 earthquakes were recorded in Oklahoma in 2005.

Just this past week, 55 earthquakes have rattled the state.

"We're very uncomfortable with the number of earthquakes we're seeing," Angier said.

Transportation authorities are sending damage crews to check bridges within five miles of the quake's epicenter.

In the past five years, their own inspectors have found only one bridge with minor visible damage.

But they say this new private firm will look beyond the cracks.

"We want to make sure we know how it impacts the piers and everything else that has to do with bridges, " Angier said.

Even with hundreds of thousands of drivers hitting the roads each day, and earthquakes dramatically increasing across the state, ODOT officials don't expect any major problems.

Instead, they say they just want to be proactive.

"It's one of those things that we're adding to our toolbox to have the information available to best deal with them. Once the consultant does their study, we have done everything in our power to be prepared for them," Angier said.

ODOT expects the survey to be complete within the next two years.

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