The twin bridges over the Verdigris River in Catoosa are in line for a makeover, and Route 66 enthusiasts from as far away as Australia are keeping track of the progress.
Nearly 20,000 vehicles travel the two bridges every day.
The bridges were built in the 1930s and have been slowly falling apart. Just in the last two years alone, ODOT has been out there 42 times for repairs.
“You have to do almost like a zigzag across it,” Catoosa resident Elizabeth Bolin said in a previous interview.
The bridges are on ODOT’s list to be replaced. The only question is what the new bridge will look like. The concern comes because the bridges are part of the long history of Route 66 and preservationists and historians are worried that the old truss style may be on the way out, and a typical concrete bridge may be on the way in.
“I think it’s a shame because the bridges have a lot of character being the style that they are,” said Brad Nickson, Route 66 Association of Oklahoma.
“We really understand that, but we also have the traveling public safety in mind,” said Dawn Sullivan of ODOT.
As part of the process, ODOT has heard from Route 66 lovers from Arizona to Australia. Nearly all want the bridges character to stay intact.
“We have received several comments to that effect that they’d like to see us try to find a way to make it fit in with the setting better, and that’s something we’re considering,” said Sullivan.
“It does not surprise me one bit that they got comments from all over the world,” said Nickson.
Nickson says safety should be the first consideration, he just wishes ODOT had more options than your average, run of the mill, modern bridge.
“Well, cause you can go anywhere in the world and see a flat concrete bridge with concrete sides,” said Nickson.
ODOT says they have not made any decisions yet and they are consulting with preservationists about the new bridge. The new bridge is scheduled to be built in 2012.
Story by Dan Bewley & Terry Hood