Another hole opens up in bridge across Lake Texoma - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Another hole opens up in bridge across Lake Texoma

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MARSHALL COUNTY -- A deteriorating bridge has some drivers on edge.

Friday, another hole opened up in the Willis Bridge which connects Marshall and Grayson counties.

Traffic along the bridge was reduced to one lane for most of the day while ODOT crews worked to patch up the hole.

"Falling through is what we were thinking about," Willis resident Brad McGahey said. "We were just thinking, 'What if this thing falls through?'"

For the second time in two weeks, ODOT crews had to fill a large hole in the deck of the Willis bridge.

"It's a recurring problem on this bridge and we are continually fixing these wholes as they occur," Trenton January with ODOT Engineering said.

Wear and tear is to blame for its bad condition. Driving across it is shaky and bumpy. Dozens of black spots in the road show where a potholes have been filled in before.

"This bridge was built in the 50's and 60's and it's just reached the end of its life cycle," January said.

ODOT says the Willis Bridge is included in its eight year construction program.

The plan is to begin construction on a new bridge in 2018 at an estimated cost of $30 million.

But some see that timeline as a problem, especially since ODOT records show the bridge has had to be repaired 23 times since December 2010. With that many repairs in recent years, some drivers feel waiting another four years to replace the bridge is too long.

"That's a long time," Sherwood Shores resident Rhonda Swift said.

"It needs to be all tore down before the end of 2015," McGahey said.

State representative Tommy Hardin wants to see the construction start date moved up, too.

He says the bridge could be dangerous and points to a deadly bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007.

"I think that's way, way too long a time to wait to fix that bridge," Rep. Hardin said. "A similar bridge in Minnesota was the one that collapsed and that's built on a similar kind of frame."

Thirteen people died and 145 were injured in the collapse.

For now, ODOT crews say they're doing what they can to stay ahead of potential problems.

Friday, they cut around the hole, braced the bottom then re-poured concrete into it. It's a short-term fix drivers can only hope will hold.

Hardin says he's been in contact with Congressman Markwayne Mullin's office and some of the Gov. Fallin's staff to push the project along.

He says he's also urging the Oklahoma Transportation Commission to approve an $808,200 contract during a meeting Monday that would begin construction plans.