LAWTON, Okla._The tri-level construction may be hindering your drive along I-44 in Lawton, but its de-construction is benefiting the county.
The steel beams being removed from the bridges are being donated to Comanche County for future bridge repairs. The county is receiving 12, 55 foot beams that had been used to reinforce the tri-level and the county is expected to receive more from another construction project on highway 17.
Whiskey Creek is currently undergoing reconstruction and 25, 30 foot beams from that project will also go to the county. County officials said that despite the beams being hand-me-downs, all of them are just as safe as new ones.
Commissioner Don Hawthorne says in order to get the donated beams, they have to meet certain structural requirements, "Part of the requirement of us getting them was we had to have a private engineer inspect them to make sure they were still good beams and ODOT also inspected them."
Commissioner Hawthorne says the beams are going to be a huge help later on for the county and help save money, "On a bridge project this was one of the major costs on a bridge, putting the beams in to make it a sturdy bridge. For specs, built to specs for a bridge I couldn't imagine how much, but they'd be several thousand."
As of now, there are no bridges that need to be repaired in the county that could use the beams but Hawthorne adds that they inspect the bridges every two years, and the last inspection was just recently done. However, he does have a few bridges in mind of where he'd like to start repairing, "We have several trust bridges right here just west of cache that I'd like to replace sometime in the future, but obviously these beams are too short for that one. In the future there are a number of other truss bridges that we might be able to replace."
Hawthorne says that an average cost for a county bridge project can be any where from $800,000 to $2 million.