How Oklahoma bridges are inspected

By: Todd Larkin Email
By: Todd Larkin Email

ARDMORE, Okla. -- The death toll in the Minneapolis bridge collapse now stands at 5, and now officials are saying that bridge was inspected two years ago and was structurally unsound.

So we decided to take a look at some of the bridges drivers cross everyday here in Texoma to find out just what condition they are in and what local inspectors look for when checking the structures.

Many bridges in southeastern Oklahoma were built when traffic was about half as heavy as it is today, but the Oklahoma Department of Transportation wants to assure everyone that all their bridges are safe and frequently inspected.

The state of Oklahoma has some of the oldest bridges in the country. Bridges made for horse and buggy are still traveled by vehicles twice the size and weight, but ODOT officials say all the state's bridges are safe because they have a rigorous checklist when it comes to inspections.

ODOT supervisor Herman Copeland takes his time inspecting bridges.

"Most people only see the surface, what they are driving across, and when it gets rough they think it’s going to fall down. We’re concerned about the surface, but our main concern is if that bridge will withstand the weight that goes across it."

The bridge on Interstate 35 near Davis was inspected recently and Thursday crews began the process of repairing minor erosion damage while the bridge in Minneapolis was inspected once a year, Copeland says Oklahoma inspects each bridge at least once every six months.

It's a job he says ODOT takes very seriously.

"My family drives across these bridges every day and all it takes is to look at a bridge and we will spend all day out here cause I consider this to be a bridge my family uses."

Copeland says he wants to make sure drivers know his crews are working as hard as they can to make sure a tragedy like the Minneapolis bridge collapse never happens in Texoma, and he wants to keep his inspectors safe as well.

"Please just be cautious when we are out here on these bridges it’s a dangerous place when we are working and you will see us around. Let us do our job and we’ll get out of your way as quick as we can."

The day before the collapse in Minnesota, Oklahoma officials made all ODOT agencies inspect all bridges in the state to make sure flooding didn’t cause any major damages.


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