Fate of underground bridge lies with Guthrie city council

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GUTHRIE, Okla. - City officials are meeting Tuesday night to discuss the possible removal of a deteriorating underground bridge.

The bridge sits beneath Harrison Avenue and over old locker rooms, adjacent to the Jelsma Stadium built in the 1930s. Tenny Maker, director of Public Works for Guthrie, said the locker rooms have not been used since the early 1970s.

Guthrie city manager Leroy Alsup says the city council is eyeing two options, either remove the underground bridge completely or repair it.

"Over time, it`s just rusted," says Alsup. "Some of the supports started to turn and those kinds of things so it's kind of a scary site when you go down there."

In late June, a critical fracture inspection recommended to reduce the weight limit on the portion of Harrison Avenue over the bridge from 12 tons to three tons. According to Maker, the three ton capacity is barely enough to carry a large SUV.

"If repairs were made, they`d have to go in and some strengthening of some beams, some extensive sandblast and painting of the structure," explains Maker.

Should the city council vote to demolish the underground bridge, Maker said a retaining wall would likely be needed to support the weight of dirt and gravel which would fill the current hollow space. The structure of the Jelsma Stadium overall will remain the same.

While the other option of repairing the underground bridge would temporarily salvage the structure, Maker tells Newschannel 4 he's leaning towards demolishing it. We're told repairs would only offer a solution lasting between 10 and 15 years.

Alsup also agrees with completly removing it, as both options would cost about the same.

"It would seem to make more sense for a bridge that serves no purpose, you'd spend the same amount of money and it's permanent fix," he says.

The council is scheduled to meet for a work session Tuesday. We're told regardless of what members eventually decide, they will work with the school district on scheduling so programs and events at the stadium will not be interrupted.

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