A project to recycle an Oklahoma expressway’s steel beams to replace deficient and obsolete county bridges is likely the largest transportation recycling effort in the nation, the state’s top transportation official said Aug. 6.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A project to recycle an Oklahoma expressway’s steel beams to replace deficient and obsolete county bridges is likely the largest transportation recycling effort in the nation, the state’s top transportation official said Aug. 6.
The closure of Oklahoma City’s Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway following completion of a new stretch of I-40 earlier this year freed up about 1,800 steel beams that were part of an 8,800-ft.-long bridge. About 1,600 of those beams have been deconstructed so far, and about 1,350 have been delivered for county road projects, Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said.
“It is a monumental task,” Ridley told state transportation commissioners. “Direct recycling of these beams is a big deal.”
Ridley said officials hope to replace more than 300 50-ft. (15 m) long county bridge spans. Each span will cost about $160,000, and Ridley said the state is saving as much as $8 million by using the recycled steel beams.
In June, Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation that will increase funding for the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges fund to construct new bridges with the recycled steel beams. Among other things, the measure increased the fund’s share of revenue from motor vehicle excise taxes, licenses and fees from 15 percent to 20 percent over three years.
The fund will begin receiving additional revenue in January. When fully in effect in 2015, the additional revenue will generate about $45 million for recycled beam bridge construction, officials said. Projects that will be funded with the new revenue will be included in a five-year construction plan that the Transportation Commission will consider in October.
Transportation officials believe that contracts for all of the recycled steel beam projects will be awarded by June 2015.
The legislation also provides enough funding for the Transportation Department to carry out Fallin’s plan to repair or replace all structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system by 2019. Ridley said 634 bridges were rated as structurally deficient at the end of 2011.
The original I-40 Crosstown Expressway was completed in 1966, and designed to carry up to 76,000 vehicles a day. When ground was broken for the new highway in 2005, the expressway carried as many as 125,000 vehicles a day.
The recycled steel beams are being delivered to 22 county government-sponsored staging areas across the state for county bridge projects. Ridley said deconstruction of the I-40 Crosstown Expressway is ahead of schedule and should be complete by the end of the year.