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Ottawa County looks to replace at least four bridges - KOAM TV 7

Ottawa County looks to replace at least four bridges

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Commissioners from Ottawa County, Oklahoma discuss the final phases of five possible new bridges.

One of the bridges has been closed for safety reasons for the past three years.  It's rebuilding was put on hold due to issues of environmental impacts.  Area residents say it has been a headache trying to find alternative route.

"You have to go north through Chetopa or south through Miami to get west across the river from here," says resident Craig Stoops.  "That puts an extra 20, 25 miles and you figure an extra 30 minute drive.  It's inconvenient - more fuel, more time."

County Commissioner John Clarke says it's not just about the inconvenient these closures pose to residents.

"The longer time it takes for emergency services to be able to get over there, I mean for ambulance services, for fire department, that adds costs to their department even to be able to supply those services for us," says Clarke.

Clarke says rebuilding four bridges will finally be given the green light, with a possible fifth bridge in the works.  He says the county receives federal assistance every year for road maintenance but it doesn't go as far as you'd think.

"Bridge costs have skyrocketed so now that $230,000 doesn't go very far," says Clarke.

That's why Clarke says the county has joined a Circuit Engineering District Coop of 10 other Oklahoma counties, to pool money and help each other fix bridges.

With Clarke's prediction that four of the five bridges will be up and open in the next two years Stoops may soon been spending that saved gas money elsewhere.

Clarke says the last bridge project completed in his district was in late 2010.

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