The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been honored for a second time with the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) “PRIDE Award,” in the Community Relations category.
ODOT Director Gary Ridley and industry officials presented the award to the ODOT Public Affairs Division. This award was originally bestowed at the ARTBA Legislative Conference held in Washington, D.C. Feb. 23, 2004.
Entered in this category was the Webbers Falls Memorial Dedication ceremony for the first year anniversary held May 26, 2003. This included project specs, event coordination, publications, photographs, articles, press releases and the Web site.
The department was given a similar honor in May 2003 for its public information work during the I-40 Webbers Falls bridge disaster and reconstruction in 2002. The incident occurred when a barge traveling up the Arkansas River rammed the bridge’s piers, knocking down more than 500 ft. (152.4 m) of the four-lane structure. The accident caused the death of 14 people.
The memorial construction effort began shortly after the bridge’s reconstruction and was a partnership between the Town of Webbers Falls, ODOT and the Federal Highway Administration. The memorial was funded in part by federal transportation enhancement money amounting to $120,000, which was approved by ODOT in September 2002, and $30,000 from the Town of Webbers Falls.
The morning of the dedication, tents were set up for the audience. Mayor Jewell Horne opened the ceremony.
Later, while Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain John Harris read the names of those who died, Webbers Falls Officer Jack Shackelford rang a bell in their honor, and families placed yellow roses on the memorial. Fourteen white doves representing the victims were released. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event.