Two bridges in Rogers County are among eight bridges that will now be repaired thanks to nearly $5 million donated by the Cherokee Nation.

The announcement came Wednesday when Cherokee Nation Chief Principal Chad Smith donated $4,725,167 to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to rebuild or repair eight bridges in a six county area.

“Today marks the beginning of a new partnership between Cherokee Nation and the State of Oklahoma, a partnership that is built upon common ground,” Smith said. “That common ground is the transportation system we use to access education, healthcare and employment.

“We want to be part of the solution to provide safe highways and byways in our corner of the state.”

The two bridges to be repaired or rebuilt in Rogers County are located over Dog Creek and an unnamed creek near Highway 412 on Highway 88.

According to Rogers County District 3 Commission Randy Baldridge, those bridges are in dire need of repair.

“Dog Creek bridge is extremely bad,” he said. “It’s been repaired two different times and they shut down access to Claremore. The other bridge needs repaired too.”

According to ODOT, 2,800 vehicles travel over both bridges along 88, which provides direct access to and from Inola. Dog Creek bridge was built in 1918, and the other bridge in 1940.

When considering which bridges were to be included in the list of eight, ODOT officials say they looked at several things, including meeting the criteria for the Federal Highway Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The donated funds will allow ODOT to begin construction on these projects sooner, rather than later.

“This will enable us to complete these bridges timely and will allow us to construct new projects,” ODOT Director Gary Ridley said. “Some would not have been in the eight year project if not for this funding. The money that was dedicated to some of these projects can now be used elsewhere.”

Engineering and design fees, as well as right-of-way acquisitions will be paid for by ODOT, with the actual construction costs being paid by the donated funds from Cherokee Nation.

Ridley personally thanked the nation for the funding, saying, “This partnership goes back many, many years.” He added that Cherokee Nation and ODOT have been working to secure funding for approximately one-and-a-half years.

Other bridges slated to be rebuilt or repaired in the six counties include:

•Dirty Butter Creek on SH11, 5,500 vehicles per day, Tulsa County

•Pecan Creek on SH51, 5,900 vehicles per day, Cherokee County

•Little Sallisaw Creek SH59 3,700 vehicles per day, Sequoyah County

•Arkansas River (2 bridges) SH62, 11,750 vehicles per day, Muskogee County

•Salt Creek US60, 1,600 vehicles per day, Nowata County

Dirty Butter Creek has already been constructed, so those funds will go toward another project, according to ODOT officials. Salt Creek is currently under construction, and the funding will be in place for the remainder.

Over the next 10 years, Cherokee Nation has vowed to contribute $51 million to repair bridges and roads in the six county area.

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