This bridge was suggested by Oklahoma Department of Transportation to be the most historically significant bridge in the state. It is hard to disagree. Oklahoma does not have the notable old 19th century cast and wrought iron truss bridges of states in the eastern United States. However, it has two unusual truss bridge forms that are unique to the state. The state is noted for its use of through truss bridges that utilize unique K-Parker truss configurations. The state is also noted for its extremely long simple-span truss bridges, most of which are created from state-standard pony truss spans. Of those ultra-long pony truss bridges, this bridge is by far the longest example and the best example. It has been reported to be the longest bridge of any kind in Oklahoma.
This bridge is so long in fact that HistoricBridges.org strongly believes it to be the longest simple-span pony truss in the entire country, both in terms of number of pony truss spans (38) and total spanning length of those 38 pony truss spans (3,800 total spanned feet by pony trusses). The overall length of the bridge as reported on the bridge plaque is 3,944.33 feet, which includes two 36 foot steel stringer approach spans. The Oklahoma bridge inventory system lists the overall length at 3,937.0 feet. A search on www.bridgehunter.com fails to reveal a single pony truss bridge with an overall length that even meets the 3,800 length. Because this bridge is apparantly the longest simple-span pony truss in America, the bridge should be considered nationally significant.
To create a context of how long this bridge is, consider that this bridge would extend (a small amount) beyond the main towers of the enormous Mackinac Bridge, which has a span of exactly 3,800 feet between towers. The bridge is longer than the overall length (3239 feet) of the massive Quebec Bridge in Canada.
The bridge is so long that in the hot Oklahoma sun, a mirage renders a clear photo of the entire bridge physically impossible as shown in the photo below. Driving across the bridge is a truly unique experience as the bridge which appears almost infinitely long as you approach it, feels like it keeps going on and on as one truss span after another rises over the roadway. HistoricBridges.org has attempted to record this experience through GoPro videos available on this page.
The bridge is also significant as one of the largest and most notable bridges on Historic Route 66. The bridge contributes to the historic significance of Route 66, and is a contributing structure to the National Register District, Bridgeport Hill - Hydro Route 66 Segment. It is worth noting that there is some nice looking vintage concrete roadway leading up to this bridge.
Despite this bridge's high level of significance, and multiple layers of historic significance, the bridge is currently at risk for demolition and replacement and a Section 106 Review is in progress. The loss of this bridge would be an irreversible destruction of a historic bridge that is unique in the context of Oklahoma, Route 66, and the entire United States. The loss would be particularly devastating to Oklahoma, which does not have a large population of highly significant historic bridges, especially those that hold records on a national scale.
There have been claims that the bridge carries heavy traffic and is too narrow. There is also evidence of collision damage to the trusses. While this is not a quiet road, and it is used by trucks, the roadway width is 24 feet (with one foot curbs for 26 feet between trusses) and it was not so busy that HistoricBridges.org was unable on a weekday afternoon to get a full portal view of the bridge without a single vehicle visible (which is hard to do for a bridge this long). The bridge seems sufficient for existing traffic, and with rehabilitation should be able to serve for decades to come. If safety is a concern, it is the opinion of HistoricBridges.org that reduced speed limits might help. Many states do not have a single two-lane road with a posted speed limit above 55mph. Oklahoma posts two-lane roads like this up to 65mph, which is great most of the time, but perhaps here a reduction to 55 might be worth consideration. Perhaps this would increase safety. Considering many states condemn its drivers to 55mph statewide on two-lane roads, having Oklahomans slow down to 55 (or slower) for a mere 3,900 feet would not be a major sacrifice! In the end they would still reach their destination fast than drivers in states that don't post two lane roads above 55.
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