Federal Records Show Almost Half of Oklahoma's Bridges Deficient

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WASHINGTON (AP) B More than a quarter of the nation's bridges -- and nearly half of all in Oklahoma -- are too weak, dilapidated or overburdened for their current traffic, according to federal records that detail an American road system that hasn't kept pace with a booming economy.

Dramatic stories of spans with falling concrete or weak supports abound across the country, even though the government has spent billions on repairs over the last few years, an Associated Press computer analysis of the records found.

School buses in Washington County in southwestern Alabama seeking to lower their weight used to have to stop at one end of a decaying bridge, let children off to walk across the span, and pick them up on the other side. Now, the buses drive 15 extra miles a day to avoid the bridge altogether.

"We said many times we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for letting that happen," said Sonny Brasfield, assistant executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

In Louisiana, a bridge over Thompsons Creek was hastily put back in place, not rebuilt, after floodwaters washed it away. To compensate, officials put new limits on the weight of trucks crossing the span.

"It would not make any structural engineer comfortable to look at the thing," state engineer Gill Gautreau said. …