Construction equipment will be in place by July 17 for the replacement of the Verdigris River bridge on Highway 20.

Drivers will then have one week before the Oklahoma Department of Transportation closes the bridge along Highway 20 on July 24 for 90 days in order to replace it.

While the bridge is closed, drivers who regularly travel along Highway 20 west of Claremore will have to follow detours. Those detours run along Highways 266 and 88, taking drivers miles out of their way and increasing fuel usage.

County road detours will not be included in this project because ODOT cannot detour drivers to roads other than highways.

Rogers County District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm said there are no county roads wide enough or able to handle the amount of traffic that travels along Highway 20 on a daily basis. Approximately 20,000 drivers travel the highway everyday.

The bridge, which was built in 1967, is in poor shape, with several places where the roadway has deteriorated. Patches have been patched several times over, which ODOT spokesman Cole Perryman said can no longer be done. He added that the entire deck of the bridge will be replaced, and some repairs to the foundation will also be made during the closure.

Message boards were recently placed along highways to notify drivers of the closing dates.

ODOT spokesman Cole Perryman said a few signs were placed miles ahead of the bridge in order to allow big vehicles to turn around and find an alternate route.

“We need to keep those big trucks up on the (Keetonville) hill because there is no where to turn around once you come down the hill,” he said. “There will be barricades up before construction begins, but local traffic will be able to get around them in order to turn around.”

Funding from a state bridge rehabilitation project will pay for the new $989,000 bridge, which will benefit the nearly 20,000 drivers who travel Highway 20 daily.