OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A new study shows Oklahoma ranks among the worst states for its number of structurally deficient bridges, but Oklahoma transportation officials said Monday that the number of such bridges on the state highway system has been dramatically reduced.
The study by the Washington, D.C., group Transportation for America shows Oklahoma has the second-highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges — 22.6 percent — among the 50 states. The study, which uses 2012 Federal Highway Administration data, shows 5,382 of the state’s nearly 24,000 bridges are structurally deficient, a term that means the bridge has a major defect in either its deck or support structure.
Only Pennsylvania, with 24.5 percent of its bridges determined to be structurally deficient, ranked worse.
Transportation for America is a coalition with more than 500 partners, including individual cities and counties, as well as mayors, councilors and other elected officials. Its executive committee includes environmental, transportation and housing groups.
But Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Mike Patterson said the study includes all the bridges in Oklahoma — state, county and city bridges. When it comes to state bridges only, the picture is dramatically better, he said.
“Here in Oklahoma, as we have been working through our deficient bridges on the highway system, we were at 17 percent back in 2005,” he said. “This year, because our structurally deficient bridges are now down to 8 percent of the total number of bridges on the highway system, it’s the first time I can recall that we’re helping to pull the average down.”
The number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system has dropped from 1,168 in 2005 to 556.
Patterson credited a decision by the Legislature in 2005 to dedicate a portion of the state’s income tax collections to pay for infrastructure improvements as a key reason for the reduction in the number of structurally deficient highway bridges.