DEL CITY, Oklahoma – It could be at least a year before the state can get around to replacing a bad bridge that continues to plague drivers, including rush hour traffic Monday afternoon.
A hole opened up in the westbound lanes of I-40 over Crutcho Creek at some point Monday morning.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation narrowed traffic down to one lane in order to patch the hole until shortly after 5 p.m.
The bridge, built in 1960 at a time the interstate system was in its infancy, is no stranger to ODOT.
But, the agency has been resigned to keeping the bridge in working order with emergency repairs, until its scheduled replacement sometime next year.
Not long after the bridge was built, the Del City Library moved into the nearby community center in 1966.
Librarian Susan Hutchins wasn’t there at the time, but she is now, helping people navigate the past.
“It’s not just books,” Hutchins said of the library. “It’s programs. It’s computers.”
As the library has kept up with the times, Hutchins said it’s clear the bridge – that carries between 80,000 to 100,000 of vehicles a day – just 200 yards away has not.
“We can’t really see the bridge,” she said, talking near a window on the east side of the building. “But, I know it has problems.”
But, the problem will take time and money.
“We don’t have a lot of (money), for maintenance-type work,” said Cody Boyd, an ODOT spokesperson. “Which is why we’re having to do reactive maintenance, which is waiting until the hole actually forms.”
This isn’t the first time a hole in the bridge has opened up; NewsChannel 4 has done multiple stories about the issue.
The last time crews were out repairing the bridge was February.
Walking below the bridge, along the bike path, you can see exposed re-bar, crumbling concrete, plywood and old street signs used on the bridge deck’s underside to provide backing for the concrete patching from above.
Boyd said the type of work will likely continue until the bridge and nearby Southeast 15th Street bridge can be replaced, a $31 million project slated for 2018.
The design phase is complete, but Boyd said one area of concern is if the agency will face additional budget cuts from the state, considering Oklahoma’s current financial situation.
“That’s why it's just patchwork, on top of patchwork, on top of patchwork,” Boyd said. “Keep it in good enough condition until we can make it to major reconstruction, and that is the answer for this bridge – to be totally replaced.”