“Structurally deficient” bridge repaired ahead of schedule

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It was supposed to be a simple $3 million rehabilitation.

But, construction crews under the Belle Isle Bridge quickly discovered it was much worse that originally thought.

"So much of the steel had rusted and the concrete," said Construction Engineer Joe Echelle. "We became concerned about the structural integrity originally of some of the piers."

Sixty-five of the 95 piers stabilizing the bridge were in desperate need of repair.

Years of traffic and Oklahoma's extreme weather are to blame according to Echelle.

"Years of leaky joints and water getting on the pier caps the salt gets on the caps and causes some rust," he said.

It made the Bell Isle "structurally deficient."

It was bad enough to launch an immediate $16.5 million emergency rehab.

Crews have been working days, nights and weekend to get the bridge up to par.

Well ahead of schedule - all lanes and off ramps are now open.

It'll be a huge relief with upcoming holiday traffic.

"All those people have been inconvenienced throughout this project," Echelle said. "We are extremely happy to open it up and not close anything else."

There is still work to be done beneath the Belle Isle.

But, the overpass between Penn and Western is safe again and obstacle free for the traveling public.

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