COAL COUNTY, OK -- Two Coal County bridges have been shut off to the public after they were deemed unsafe by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
In Coal County off old Hwy 3 you will find two narrow bridges built back in 1928. Today rusted beams are all that prevent vehicles from falling over 20 feet into the creek beds below, but after 85 years of wear and tear Commissioner Johnny Ward says the bridges are at the point of collapse and need to come down.
"I feel it's a safety issue and always safety comes first," Ward said.
Ward says last week ODOT mandated the county shut down the bridges.
"You know if they did fall in on somebody, you know, it's a liability and the cost of a lawsuit or whatever maybe to where our little county or even tax payers couldn't handle it," Ward said.
The bridges are now blocked off by dirt mounds and signs.
"It's going to be a little unhandy, a little inconvenient for some but still you got safety. It ought to overwrite any of that," Ward said.
Ward says the county is responsible for replacing the bridges which would cost up to a million dollars. He says they have the funds to repair them in the interim and then rebuild them, which would take up to 18 months.
"To meet today's standard they need to be a wider bridge and probably a little longer, and embankments raised to a certain degree to handle the high water," Ward said.
Coal County resident Jerry Nanney says he does not want to see the bridges go, but agrees they need to be replaced.
"I'd hate to see the kids get hurt on that bridge if it were to fall in," Nanney said. " The safety of the people, that's all i care about."
The bridges are within District 1 where Alvin Pebworth is the County Commissioner. He was unable to comment on camera Friday, but says he plans to meet with engineers soon to determine the next course of action.