to a story in The Oklahoman, investigators are reviewing records
that show the I-40 bridge in Webbers Falls, OK, was rated as
likely in need of rehabilitation. Bridge inspections also show
that drivers detouring around the bridge may be driving over
a bridge likely in need of replacement.
Transportation Safety Board reportedly is looking into whether
that rating may have played a role in the bridge's collapse,
after a barge struck the bridge May 26, sending a 580-foot span
into the Arkansas River. Fourteen were killed after their vehicles
plunged into the murky water.
a June 2001 inspection report, state inspectors gave the bridge
a sufficiency rating of 67. The bridge's substructure condition
was termed "fair."
rated between 51 and 80 percent probably is in need of rehabilitation,
the newspaper reported. A bridge rated 50 percent or less is
considered in need of replacement.
recommended detour around the bridge for eastbound drivers is
to take State Highway 2 south from Warner, then east on State
Highway 9, and north on U.S. 59 to I-40 near Sallisaw. Westbound
drivers should turn north on State Highway 10 at mile marker
291, then take U.S. 64 west to Gore, and turn south on State
Highway 100 to I-40.
59 bridge is rated at 36, but reconstruction has been going
on for about a year and reportedly is about half finished. The
bridge is estimated to be carrying about 10,000 vehicles a day
because of the detour, more than double the 4,400 vehicles it
normally carries daily, but has been deemed safe for the additional
traffic. The U.S. 64 (SH 100) bridge has a 82 percent rating.
Highway Administration announced it has committed an initial
$3 million in federal emergency relief funds to Oklahoma to
rebuild the I-40 bridge. Members of the Oklahoma Congressional
delegation reportedly are expected to seek an additional $17
and barges piloted by William Joe Dedmon collided with the I-40
bridge after veering about 300 feet off course from the main
channel. Dedmon alleges he "blacked out."
investigators are awaiting results of health tests and toxicology
reports on Dedmon to determine an official cause of the collision.
The captain had slept for less than 10 hours the 41 and a-half
hours preceding the accident, the National Transportation Safety
Board has determined.