The City of Lawton will explore options to find funding to repair or replace bridges crossing Wolf Creek in south and northwest Lawton.
City Council members weren’t happy with city staff’s proposal last month to use the 2019 Capital Improvements Program or the Ad Valorem Road Improvement Program to tackle two sets of deteriorating bridges: two on South 11th Street between Interstate 44 and Pecan Road; and a bridge that crosses eastbound and westbound Cache Road between Oak Avenue and Northwest 47th Street. The deterioration on the Cache Road bridge can be handled with an estimated $1.3 million in repairs, but the South 11th Street bridges must be replaced, a cost now estimated at $5.43 million.
Deputy City Manager Dewayne Burk said city staff considers the bridge work an emergency because of the steps the city has had to take to lessen the traffic that passes over the bridges. Both sets have been weight-restricted, meaning vehicles over a certain weight can’t drive on them. Fire trucks can’t drive over either set, while most city sanitation trucks can’t drive on the South 11th Street bridges.
“We are considering them emergency issues — when fire trucks can’t pass over them, and when we have to go around bridges on South 11th Street,” Burk said. “They’ve become such an issue for us. That’s why we’re looking at that (funding).”
Burk, a retired Lawton fire chief, is concerned that fire apparatus must take alternate routes when responding to emergencies in the vicinity of the Cache Road Wolf Creek bridge. The bigger issue is the South 11th Street bridges. Once rated for 33 tons, they were downgraded to 13 tons in April 2022 to reflect their severe deterioration.
That means heavy trucks can’t drive over them. That affects vehicles that use Lawton’s city landfill on South 11th Street, located on the south side of Tinney Road and just south of where the weight-restricted bridges are located. South 11th Street is the most direct route to the city landfill, but the majority of the city’s solid waste vehicles can’t use it to drive directly to the landfill.
“We didn’t close them, but now trash trucks can’t go over them,” City Engineer Joseph Painter said of the 90-year-old bridges.
Public Works Director Larry Wolcott said because most sanitation vehicles in the solid waste division’s fleet are too heavy to use the bridges, they use alternate routes to get to the landfill.
“There’s a variety of routes,” Wolcott said, of access points that include Pecan Road for vehicles coming from places west of South 11th Street, Tinney Road for those coming from the east, and even Interstate 44.
Wolcott said because South 11th Street is the most direct route, it offers less travel time. Alternate routes mean more road miles.
“That adds mileage,” he said of city vehicles, adding while the city hasn’t yet calculated the additional cost, the additional mileage also means more time to run routes and more fuel.