On Monday, the bridge over the Verdigris River on Highway 20 between Claremore and Owasso is scheduled to close.

Renie Doherty, who lives west of the river, believes, “It will be well worth it.”

Looking down the road (figuratively speaking), Doherty knows Monday’s closing of the bridge for repairs will be an inconvenience not only for her, but people on both sides of the river.

Doherty lives in the Collinsville zip code across the river and north of the highly traveled Highway 20. But, she still calls Claremore her second home.

She’s just one of several thousand people who will find it necessary to take an alternate route to their daily Highway 20 drive between Claremore and Owasso over the next 75 days.

Department of Transportation contractors are slated to begin the tedious job of tearing out the old bridge and building a new support and deck system for the heavily traveled roadway next week.

Still, she welcomes the upgrades, “It’s something that had to be done.”

Doherty has sat down and figured up how the bridge closing is going to affect her business since it will soon entail “considerable more mileage and considerable more time.” A one way trip to town up until now has been around 14 miles. The detours could add as much as five to 10 miles to her daily trips.

“Most of my business is in Claremore,” Doherty said. She owns and operates a specialty advertising and promotions company and is a community volunteer with several city organizations.

“I make at least one trip to Claremore everyday and some days I take two trips,” Doherty said. “Now my trips to town will have to be planned better.”

Bottom line, “I won’t be able to shop in Claremore as much either,” Doherty said.

Billy Foster has lived one mile east of the Verdigris Bridge for about 22 years. Working in Tulsa, he has had to find other alternatives for transportation.

“Now I take Keetonville Road to catch a carpool near the Port of Catoosa,” he said. “I’d be interested in joining a carpool with someone who lives near me. When gas prices went up, I tried to get some people interested in a carpool, but I couldn’t find anyone.”

Driving along Keetonville Road in order to catch a ride not only adds 10 to 12 miles to his drive, and increases fuel costs for Foster, but the road itself is not meant for high traffic.

“The road is separating, cracking, pulling away from the middle. You can definitely see and feel the cracks in the asphalt,” he said.

Foster said he hopes it will turn out to be a good thing.

“Having the bridge closed for 90 days seems excessive, especially in the summer,” he said. “ I wouldn’t think there would be any days lost due to weather.”

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