Claremore Daily Progress

August 7, 2013

Catoosa taking ownership of Rice St. Bridge

Mark Friedel
Staff Reporter

CATOOSA —

Catoosa City Council members approved to salvage and assume ownership of the Rice Street Bridge over Spunky Creek during Monday’s regular meeting. 
All seven members of the board voted yes to have the bridge transported from the original site and reconditioned for use as part of the city’s sidewalk to school’s project.
The Rogers County-owned Rice Street Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic for years. 
Once the bridge is relocated, a new bridge will be built allowing the road to reopen for drivers to cut through to Hwy. 66 from Cherokee. 
District 3 Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker and Rogers County Contract Engineer Brian Kellogg addressed the council with a plan for the relocation of the 100-year-old bridge.
“The best (plan) that we can come up with at the moment is dismantling the bridge in a reasonable manner, setting it to the side and the county will haul it over to the District 3 maintenance shelter in Claremore,” said Thacker. “That was a cheaper way to go instead of having the contractor try to wrestle that thing around. We’ll try to have a truck there waiting to haul (the bridge) to the shelter as it is dismantled, but if not we’ll still get it there.”
City Engineer/PWA Director Craig Kupec said “decent” plans have been made to use the bridge as one of the pedestrian bridges on the eastside of Cherokee Street, integrating a piece of history into the city’s sidewalk to school project.
“Two pedestrian bridges will be needed on the eastside of Cherokee. Cost of a new bridge is rougly $60,000,” said Kupec. 
“If we could effectively use (the Rice Street Bridge) for anything less than $60,000, we’re preserving a piece of history, and it’s not like it’s all expenses because in the future we’ll be spending money for a new bridge anyway.”
Kupec said the bridge can be broken down into manageable pieces; however, the process will be labor intensive because of the size and weight.
Currently, the bridge is in poor shape and closed to the public.
“It’s rusty and old. Anything could happen from the time ODOT takes it out, to unloading,” said Thacker. 
“We’re not guaranteeing that the bridge will be in manageable pieces, but we’re going to do our very level best to make that happen.”
A hired contractor will disassemble the bridge before handing it over to Rogers County District 3. 
Contract bids for the project should be finalized by the end of September.
Thacker said the construction of the new Rice Street Bridge will be paid for by a combination of federal and state funds with a combination of circuit engineering district. 
Funds will be used to front the expense of the construction, but must be repaid to the state’s Emergency and Transportation Revolving Fund.
Total amounts for removal and construction of the bridge are undetermined at this time.
Enable to relocate the bridge, Rogers County District 3 officials will also need to relocate an eight-inch waterline, owned by Catoosa which is currently laying in the way of construction. 
Along with other county engineers, Kellogg has provided a corridor for the city, allowing no additional easements to be required.
“I don’t really see a way around leaving that waterline there. There’s some exposure on the city’s behalf and ODOT’s behalf, and what will happen if it is accidentally hit during construction,” said Kellogg.
Kupec said plans include to provide a corridor for the waterline in the city’s new define right-of-way. 
The water way will continue to connect service from the eastside of Catoosa to the westside.
“If the line does not get moved than that bridge is staying as it is because of liability issues with damage to the current waterline during construction of the new bridge,” said Thacker. 
He said relocation of the waterline should cost upwards of $50,000.
City of Catoosa and Rogers County officials plan to meet within the week to discuss construction plans for both projects.