Poor road conditions continue to frustrate Oklahoma City metro drivers

A portion of SE 15th St. in the Del City area is closed for repair of a hole in the I-40 bridge that goes over the street. (David Young/KOKH)

Another day, another hole in a metro bridge.

It's a headline you'll see every few weeks for the I-40 and Sunnylane Road bridge in Del City. 32 times in the last five years to be exact.

It's frustrating to get behind the wheel, just to drive on roads that are too crowded, in disrepair, or possibly even closed for construction. It can be frustrating for you, and also for those in charge of the aging infrastructure. They are left with the daunting task of keeping up with the growing metro population, and funding that has lacked for decades.

"The growth in this area has been extremely amazing which is good. But Oklahoma City and Tulsa, some of the urban areas have seen major growth for the state which is a good thing, but we also have to remember that infrastructure has to keep up with it," says Terri Angier, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

According to ODOT, the state has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for lack of funding for infrastructure. That is until recently. Now, the department is in the middle of a major road renovation to catch up for years of neglect.

"Around the 2000, 2002 time period, we began to really start talking about how terrible the condition of our highways and our bridges were," said Angier.

So far, the state has made significant progress. In 2004, there were 1,168 structurally deficient bridges. That number is now under 170. The next phase is an eight-year plan that will focus on the road and surface conditions with the remainder of the structurally deficient bridges to be addressed in the next two. In the meantime, Oklahoma drivers are left bearing the brunt of rough road conditions.

"It's frustrating to have roads that are in disrepair, but it's also a major safety risk," says Leslie Gamble, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma.

Gamble shared some staggering numbers of just what's at stake for Oklahomans. In data released this month, Oklahoma City was ranked 20th in the nation for having the most roads in poor condition. It was also ranked the 6th highest in the nation for cost in vehicle operating costs due to rough roads. Each driver pays on average about $900 per year.

"We can't let our roads take a back seat, when our safety is on the line and when costs are so high," said Gamble.

AAA Oklahoma says there is not much drivers can do, aside from making sure their vehicle is as safe as possible. They urge drivers to keep tires in good shape, and check the pressure regularly.

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