Fixing ‘roller coaster’ bridge in Broken Arrow to be among first Access Oklahoma projects


By John Dobberstein, Editor

Fixing the “roller coaster” portion of the Creek Turnpike in Broken Arrow will likely be one of the first projects to roll out under the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s $5 billion Access Oklahoma program.

Design work is under way to rehabilitate and replace portions of the Creek Turnpike bridges over Haikey Creek, OTA Deputy Director Joe Echelle told the Broken Arrow City Council Tuesday.

The work will take place from just west of Garnett Road southeast for about a mile on the turnpike. Echelle said those bridges are up for “a major rehab” as they’ve been there more than 20 years. Crews will be replacing parts of the bridge deck and beams, and additional lighting is also planned.

An estimate of when construction to start wasn’t discussed. But Echelle said there’s no right of way for OTA to purchase and permit issues are not expected, he said, although some discussions will still take place with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers because of the wetlands below the structures.

Motorists have long wondered how the bridges developed those humps. Many Tulsans call the Creek Turnpike in that area the "roller coaster" bridge and Echelle says he's heard bridges with similar problems named "rodeo bridges."

Echelle said that in the 1990s when the Haikey Creek bridges were built, construction workers were using some of the very first concrete bridge beams utilized in Oklahoma.

“The beams have a bunch of cambers so that whenever you load them they get flat. And the thought was that over time the steel that holds that beam in this curl position would relax,” he said. “We’ve since learned that does occur, but not to the degree that was planned. So it left a bunch of humps in the bridge.”

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