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A tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 44 passes a crumbling wall on a bridge over 33rd West Avenue in 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma improved its national ranking on reducing its structurally deficient bridges, Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz said Monday.

Gatz’s comments were made during the Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma went to 13th in best bridges from 17th in 2017, he said.

Oklahoma now has 132 structurally deficient bridges out of 6,800 on the highway system.

“That is excellent progress,” said Gatz, who also serves as head of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

The rankings do not include bridges operated by local entities, such as city and county governments.

A structurally deficient bridge is one which has any element rated as a four or less, such as the bridge deck or driving surface, Gatz said.

Cody Boyd, ODOT spokesman, said other elements include the structural members of the bridge and the substructure, which are the foundation-type elements.

A brand new bridge is a 10, Gatz said.

“Really, structurally deficient sounds worse than it is,” said Terri Angier, an ODOT spokeswoman. “It is a ranking on a national level they use to determine whether a bridge is now eligible for federal funding. That is about all that is on a national level.”

It is not a bridge that is dangerous for people to drive over, Angier said.

Gatz said the remaining 132 structurally deficient bridges are on the department’s radar for improvements.

Commissioner James L. Grimsley said he was impressed by the progress the department had made.

“This is significant,” Grimsley said.

The state had almost 1,200 structurally deficient bridges in 2004, Gatz said.

The state was among the worst in bridge rankings in 2004, Angier said.

The agency in 2006 began working to put funds into addressing the problem, Angier said.

The bigger push came in 2011 when then Gov. Mary Fallin supported additional funding, Angier said.

“That is really when we became really focused,” Angier said.

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Barbara Hoberock



Twitter: @bhoberock

Capitol Bureau Writer

Barbara has covered the statehouse since 1994. She covers politics, appellate courts and state agencies. She has worked for the Tulsa World since 1990. Phone: 405-528-2465

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