Closing of river bridge between Owasso and Claremore set for July



By KRYSTAL J. CARMAN

Staff Writer

Enjoy the drive across Verdigris Bridge on Highway 20 while you can because its replacement is on the way — and soon.

Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation say the bridge will be closed for 90 days starting in mid-July. The exact closing date will be set after the Fourth of July holiday.

“We will be putting out message boards right after the holiday,” ODOT spokesman Cole Perryman said Thursday. In fact, message boards will be on display for approximately two weeks prior to the start of construction. This will give drivers who regularly travel across the bridge time to find alternate routes.

A construction meeting with various officials, the engineer and contractor was held earlier this week to determine what dates the bridge will be closed.

As it stands now, the bridge, which was built in 1967, is set to be closed for 90 days. Construction was supposed to begin in June, but that date was changed after speaking with contractors, according to officials.

The bridge is now showing its age with various “pot holes” and unsafe conditions. To replace the entire deck, as well as some foundation repairs, will cost the state $989,000 and cause drivers headaches for the three month span. But once completed, Perryman said it will benefit the nearly 20,000 drivers who travel Highway 20 daily.

As it stands now, ODOT is only recommending two alternate routes — both state highways. According to state law, ODOT cannot detour traffic away from state highways.

Drivers trying to come to or from the Keetonville and Owasso areas, west of the bridge, can either travel along Highway 66 to 266, or take Highway 169 through Oologah to Highway 88 to access Claremore.

There has been some talk of alternative solutions to the added miles and fuel costs that will impact drivers.

“We want to talk to the transportation commission to see what we can do about building one side of the bridge at a time to keep it open,” Owasso’s City Manager Rodney Ray said.

Since the entire bridge deck is being replaced, as well as a few other repairs beneath the deck, according to Perryman, there is no way that will happen on this project.

“The way the spans are built, they are poured all together,” he said. “So we can’t do one lane at a time because of the way it has to be built.”

Contact Krystal J. Carman, newwsed@swbell.net.