Following is information based on questions submitted to the City of Bartlesville regarding the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Highway 123 Bridge Project. For more information, please contact ODOT.
What does the Cherokee/Highway 123 Bridge project entail?
The Highway 123 Bridge project is a proposed Oklahoma Department of Transportation project, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, which involves improvements to the bridge crossing over the Caney River on State Highway 123, also known as Hensley Boulevard, in Bartlesville. The purpose of the project is to provide a structurally sound crossing and preserve the transportation continuity over the Caney River on SH 123.
What is being proposed with this project?
Under consideration is a plan to construct a new bridge east of the existing bridge to align the bridge intersection with Hensley Boulevard and Delaware Avenue. (The bridge intersection is currently at Hensley Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue.)
Will the existing bridge be removed?
Currently, no one has come forward to accept the liability, ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the existing bridge. Therefore, the existing bridge will be removed.
Why is this project necessary?
The existing bridge, which is currently posted with a 10-ton load limit, is a 3-span K-truss and pony truss bridge with sidewalks that is in poor condition and considered structurally deficient.
Is the bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places?
No. However, the bridge is eligible for listing on the NRHP, as are the Bartlesville Water Company Dam located beneath the bridge and several masonry tree wells in the area.
Would the city support a volunteer group taking over the bridge as a pedestrian/overlook project?
On May 16, 2016, the Bartlesville City Council voted unanimously to approve Resolution No. 3386, expressing support of the Delaware Avenue alignment as the preferred alignment and clearly stating that the City is not in a position to consider accepting ownership of the existing bridge.
The City would not oppose a volunteer group taking ownership of the bridge; however, this is an agreement that would need to be made with ODOT, not the City. From the City’s perspective, however, any group taking ownership of the bridge should be aware of the following challenges:
- ODOT plans to remove and reuse the soil from the abutments in the construction of the new bridge. This will allow them to comply with flood regulations that prohibit adding fill to a floodplain. If the existing bridge is left in place, it will essentially be standing on concrete stilts.
- Any group taking ownership of the existing bridge would need to permanently fund the long-term maintenance of the structure, as they will own it in perpetuity. The bridge cannot be allowed to deteriorate due to safety concerns and issues with the low-water dam beneath the existing bridge. This dam is critical to the city’s local water supply. If the bridge deteriorates, it can threaten the integrity of that structure.
- The bridge would be a privately owned structure open to the public and, as such, would need to meet applicable local and state construction standards.
There are other considerations as well that would be better addressed by ODOT, the agency which currently owns and is responsible for maintenance of the bridge. (See contact information below.)
Is there a cost estimate available on bringing the bridge to standards for pedestrian only use?
The most recent estimate made public by ODOT indicates the cost of converting the existing bridge to pedestrian traffic is approximately $3.5 million. It is worth noting the proposed bridge includes the construction of five-foot sidewalks on each side, which connects to existing sidewalks in the area, for pedestrian and non-vehicular use.
Is there a cost estimate on bringing the bridge to standards to be used as a monument or overlook?
Early estimates made public by ODOT indicate the cost of converting the existing bridge to a monument is approximately $700,000 less than the cost to convert it for pedestrian use, brining the most recent estimate to $2.8 million. The City has not been made aware of any changes to this estimate.
If the bridge is removed, will the City or ODOT tear it down?
The City will not be involved in any aspect of the construction of the new bridge or the demolition of the existing bridge. ODOT is examining all options, and ODOT teams have conducted public hearings in Bartlesville to accept input on the bridge project. This project is entirely an ODOT project.
Does ODOT have any existing programs regarding alternative re-use of historic bridges?
ODOT provides opportunities for bridge relocation with the agency’s History Bridge Marketing Program. Contact ODOT for more information.
How do I contact ODOT about this project?
Citizens with questions or concerns about this project are invited to contact Kenna Mitchell, ODOT Public Information Manager, Division 8, at 918.838.9933.
For more information, see:
Information from ODOT’s May 16, 2016 public meeting in Bartlesville
- Video recording of meeting, held at Bartlesville Community Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET72sbL1fYw
- Presentation: http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/meetings/a2016/160510/presentation.pdf
Information from ODOT’s Dec. 20, 2018 public meeting in Bartlesville