OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s been almost seven years since one of Oklahoma City’s busiest bridges collapsed when a semi hauling a boom lift hit the May Ave. bridge over Northwest Expressway. The collapsed portion was fixed, but now there are plans to replace the entire bridge as thousands of vehicles cross it each day.
The city of Oklahoma City plans to replace the entire bridge due to safety concerns.
Nearby businesses told KFOR they’re worried it will affect their bottom line.
“The safety of our clientele and our employees is of the utmost importance always… If they shut that bridge down for safety reasons, which obviously if it needs to be handled, that could really affect our business certainly,” said Maggie Howell-Dowd, co-owner of Mediterranean Imports, Deli & Gastro Goods.
Maggie Howell-Dowd, co-owner of Mediterranean Imports, Deli & Gastro Goods said flowing traffic from the bridge is detrimental to her business as the facility sits in off a service road.
“It’s already a bit of a challenge… We’re already a little bit off the beaten path and so a lack of access to May Avenue, which is one of the biggest thoroughfares in the city, could be detrimental to our business,” said Howell-Dowd.
Howell-Dowd also said plans to replace the bridge could be crucial to getting customers to her business.
“This is such a thoroughfare for this part of the city. And if people have to go all the way around, they’re not going to want to come back to this location, and then have to find another route detour. So, yeah, I think it will be a big problem if we lose that bridge access,” said Howell-Dowd.
Another nearby business, Chester’s Pool Hall and Grill owner, John Barton told KFOR, if customers are concerned with traveling the bridge, it may reduce their chances to get to his business.
“As a business owner, you know, I’m obviously concerned about traffic being able to get here. So, if people are afraid to go over a bridge, then they’re going to take alternate routes and it won’t get them by my business,” said John Barton, owner of Chesters Pool Hall & Grill.
Barton is also worried about future construction that may stop the flow of traffic to his business.
“That would be equally detrimental… We just have a general concern about infrastructure in this country right now. So, I mean, all of that kind of plays into it, any time we see any kind of a bridge collapse anywhere. So obviously, just as a citizen, the integrity of our bridges is really important,” said Barton
The city’s public works department was unable to meet with KFOR on Monday, so they sent this statement saying,
The bridge, originally built by ODOT, is currently in design phase. As the design proceeds, we’ll be able to provide decisions and information. Options are being evaluated.Shannon Cox, Oklahoma City Public Works Public Information Officer
The city also told KFOR, the bridge is safe to pass, and a construction date has not been announced yet.