Oklahoma bridge collapses after struck by oversized flatbed tractor-trailer

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 5/20/2016

A bridge in Oklahoma City collapsed on Thursday after a flatbed tractor-trailer carrying an oversized load of construction equipment hit the overpass. Oklahoma City Police Department confirmed that no one was injured.

At approximately 2:40 p.m. on May 19, a truck westbound on Northwest Expressway struck the May Avenue bridge, knocking down part of it, according to Oklahoma City Public Works. An OKCPD spokesperson said the driver of the truck had cleared the bridge going eastbound before heading westbound. Eastbound lanes have a clearance of 14’8” whereas westbound clearance has a 4-inch differential of 14’4”.

City officials say the bridge collapse was not the result of a design- or maintenance-related issue. Three beams were destroyed, and significant damage was done to the deck and guardrails. The city estimates that the removal of damaged parts, which will begin this weekend, will cost $55,000. Repair plans are expected to be completed by engineers within 10 days.

As of press time, May Avenue and Northwest Expressway are closed in all directions at the intersection until further notice. A time frame for repairs and reopening of the roads will not be available until engineers evaluate damages.

Traffic from Northwest Expressway is being diverted to the ramps to north- and southbound May Avenue. Traffic on May Avenue is being directed to use alternate routes, including NW 63rd and NW 50th streets. Local access to roads and businesses on May between NW 63rd and NW 50th is still open except over the bridge.

Approximately 20,000 vehicles cross the May Avenue bridge daily, according to Oklahoma City Public Works. The bridge was last inspected in August 2014, with bridge inspections occurring every other year. Public Works will review the bridge’s history during the damage evaluation. Two similar crashes have occurred at the same bridge, one in 1993 and another in 2014.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, nearly a quarter of U.S. bridges are deficient. Specifically, 10 percent were considered “structurally deficient” and 14 percent were categorized as “functionally obsolete.” The May Avenue bridge was listed as structurally deficient.

According to DOT Road and Bridge Data by State released last July, Oklahoma ranked near the middle for deficient bridges with 22.4 percent of the state’s bridges considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.