OKLAHOMA CITY – A recently released report indicates Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for the highest percentage of bridges in poor condition.
The information was released by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks from Federal Highway Administration data.
Large companies including Amazon, FedEx, UPS and Anheuser-Busch are lobbying Congress to allow heavier trucks and longer double-trailer trucks, according to the coalition.
“Any increases in truck size and weight passed in Congress could negatively impact the state of Oklahoma and its bridges,” said Shane Reese, Coalition Against Bigger Trucks spokesman. “Bad infrastructure is also a highway danger and not only a highway danger to private motorists but to professional truck drivers and law enforcement officers patrolling the road alike.”
The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, a nonprofit founded in 1995 and based in Virginia, has asked Congress not to increase the size and weight limits on trucks. Legislation is already pending that would allow for heavier trucks nationwide, Reese said.
The coalition receives money from the railroad industry and the trucking industry, he said, but most of the money is from the railroad industry. The organization also has support from law enforcement and local officials.
“Like so many rural communities, my county is hard pressed to find the next nickel to keep up with our road and bridge maintenance,” said Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland. “Let me be clear, we’re nowhere close to being able to keep up now, but bigger trucks would incur such incredible infrastructure costs that I don’t see how we’d recover.”
Oklahoma ranked behind Iowa and Pennsylvania in bad bridges, according to the group. The state had nearly 11% of its bridges ranked as poor.
Oklahoma has 23,116 bridges, of which 2,540 are in poor condition, Reese said.
Terri Angier, Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokesperson, said she was puzzled by the ranking. Recent reports have Oklahoma ranking 10th or 11th, she said. The organization used data on bridges maintained by the state and local entities, such as county governments.
ODOT has 6,800 bridges, while counties have 16,000, she said. In recent years, ODOT has made a significant reduction in bridges deemed structurally deficient.
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