DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -Bridges in Stephens County are becoming safer, thanks to recycled materials from the Oklahoma City I-40 Crosstown Bridge.
County officials say after that bridge was torn down, they received more than 150 steel beams to help rebuild bridges in District 2. Stephens County District 2 Commissioner Lonnie Estes says the recycled beams have helped save the county close to $1 million over the last six years in replacement materials, and helped to rebuild close to 40 worn out, wooden brides throughout the county.
County officials say they hope to get started replacing a bridge on the east side of Duncan within the next few weeks, if Mother Nature holds off.
The bridge on Camelback Road shows why Commissioner Estes says it needs to be replaced. He says with more than 200 bridges in his district, replacing them has become a year-round project; something he's concerned about when it comes to getting funding.
"I'm afraid with the budget the way it's going to be this year...we may really lose the lack of funds for infrastructure. That's not going to be a good deal for our county," Estes said.
Estes says each time the county needs a bridge beam, he has to present this request in front of the County Commissioners at one of their meetings. From there, an inspector is sent down to place a number on the beam as a way to track the beam once it's placed on a bridge. Estes says the recycled beams have saved the county $25,000 per bridge. He says without the donated beams, drivers in Stephens County would be affected.
"Pretty bad shape. We'd probably have some of them closed, because we couldn't afford to buy the beams to replace all the bridges that would have to be replaced with these beams," Estes said.
With that in mind, his crews are just replacing the bridges as needed, and not just because they have the beams. Estes says he's grateful for the bridges he's been able to rebuild so far.
"We couldn't have done near as many bridges had the state not donated these to the county," he said.
Estes says he has about 10 wooden bridges that have to be rebuilt in his district. He says he has enough recycled materials for two out of the 10 bridges, which he hopes to have rebuilt by the end of the year.
Estes says the recycled materials should last at least 100 years.