ROADS/BRIDGES: Record-breaking rainfall causes extensive damage to Oklahoma highways & bridges

June 2, 2015

Twenty-nine state and federal highways and bridges remain closed in Oklahoma due to unprecendent flooding. 

Oklahoma transportation officials are busy repairing highway damage due to unprecedented flooding in state history.  The flooding has affected 60 counties so far.

The final statewide average rainfall in May was 14.40 in., 9.58 in. above normal rainfall records, according to state climatology reports.

Oklahoma Transportation Department Chief Engineer Casey Shell said fast-moving waters can peel asphalt surfaces off roadways and undermine road supports. Water can also soften the grade below the road, causing problems later.

Twenty-nine state and federal highways and bridges are closed, with southeastern Oklahoma being the hardest-hit area. Some are still covered by water and their condition unknown, but are likely to remain flooded for weeks to come. Others are dry but have major cracks, washouts or are covered by rocks.

“We will certainly get all the roads fixed,” Shell said. “We’ll have to move some money around to make sure these things happen, but we have contingencies for that.”

Shell also said the state will seek federal reimbursement for flood damages, and the costs of fixing the damaged roads won’t affect other state transportation projects.

The estimated cost to clear one landslide that closed U.S. 271 in southeastern Oklahoma has surpassed $1 million. 

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