ODOT offers interim solution for troubled I-40 bridges

The I-40 bridges over Crutcho Creek and SE 15th Street in Del City have experienced several maintenance issues over the past several years. The two bridges have been partially closed a total of 10 time since 2012 due to holes in the roadway. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)

The I-40 bridges over Crutcho Creek and SE 15th Street in Del City have experienced several maintenance issues over the past several years. The two bridges have been partially closed a total of 10 time since 2012 due to holes in the roadway. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)

Help is on the way for two problematic bridges along I-40 in Del City.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is planning significant repairs for bridges over Crutcho Creek and SE 15th Street. Officials say repairs will provide an interim solution until the bridges will be replaced in 2018.

 Crews will make several “significant repairs” to the concrete deck and seal the bridge with a thin layer of asphalt. The overlay is designed to prevent water from seeping into the bridge and causing it to rust and expand.
“We hope by doing this (interim project) it will put the pavement in better condition until the bridges can be replaced in 2018,”said Lisa Shearer-Salim, ODOT Public Information Manager.
The interim project will include both eastbound and westbound bridges over SE 15th Street and Crutcho Creek. Work is expected to start late this week or early next week. Officials warn of major lane closures and traffic delays. Work could last up to a month.
The bridges have experienced several closures in recent years. The Crutcho Creek bridge has been partially closed twice this month and five times since 2012 due to holes in the roadway. Crews have repaired holes in the SE 15th Street bridge three times this year and five times since 2012.
Eastbound I-40 was narrowed to one lane Monday as crews fixed an 8-by-5 foot hole in the bridge over Crutcho Creek. The lanes remained closed for more than 10 hours after crews realized the damage was greater than initially projected.
ODOT officials say they are closely monitoring these bridges. Crews visually inspect the bridges weekly and follow up with more extensive examinations of any damage areas. All bridges receive a comprehensive inspection every two years. ODOT also inspects bridges following earthquakes.
“If we thought there was a true safety issue we would close the bridges,” Shearer-Salim said. “When there is a hole in a bridge, our maintenance crews respond very quickly to keep the bridge as safe as possible.”
Shearer-Salim said the majority of the holes in the bridges happen in the center and outside lane on the eastbound lanes. Holes are typically spotted by ODOT crews or Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers.
Issues with the bridges are due to deterioration of the concrete decking or surface. Shearer-Salim said increased traffic, especially from heavy trucks, has caused the roadway to wear. The bridges were built in 1960 with an expected lifespan of 60-70 years. About 35,000-45,000 motorists travel along the section of I-40 daily.
The Crutcho Creek and SE 15th Street bridges have been on ODOT’s radar for several years. In 2009, the projects were added to the state’s eight-year transportation plan with a target of 2012.  Those projects were pushed back several times in the following years due to issues with utility relocation.
“Just about every utility you can think of runs through this area and that delayed our ability to start the project,” said Mills Leslie, ODOT spokesperson.
In 2012, ODOT officials widened the scope of the project to include to the nearby I-40 bridges over Sooner Road. Similar projects were also added for Scott Street and Sunnylane bridges within the next few years.
“We wanted to combine the projects to save money and lessen the time that I-40 will be closed,” Leslie said.
ODOT expects to begin work on replacing the Crutcho Creek, SE 15th St. and Sooner Rd. bridges in 2018. The $42 million project will include replacing eastbound and westbound bridges as well as approaches.
A total of 10 other projects in Oklahoma County, which were included in the 2009 eight-year-plan, have also not yet been completed.

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