The historic Rock Creek Bridge on the old Ozark Trail alignment of Route 66 in Sapulpa, Okla., was closed to traffic Thursday after a state inspection deemed it unsafe, reported the Sapulpa Daily Herald.
A visit to the 1921 bridge Friday revealed that in addition to “Bridge Out” signs, large chunks of concrete laid onto the road also blocked access to the bridge.
The newspaper reported:
[C]ontracted engineers found concerns in several support beams during their fracture-critical inspection. Nearly 90 years of traffic accidents and metal fatigue finally took their tolls on the famous structure. […]
City officials are working with engineers who are compiling their recommendations. They will make a decision on the best way to proceed.
“There is not yet a time frame on the repair determinations,” Gilliland said. […]
“Hopefully they can fix it up for a pedestrian or bicycle bridge if it can’t handle traffic,” Route 66 enthusiast Frank Gierhart said.
The City of Sapulpa will have to perform the bridge repairs. However, the state can provide technical assistance if the city is awarded federal money for the project, the Herald said.
The bridge served Route 66 until 1952, when officials realigned the highway to the south. The Rock Creek Bridge remains on the National Register of Historic Places.
The news of the bridge’s closure came not as a surprise. We’d watched the bridge’s load rating drop in recent years to the 4-ton minimum. That meant any more deterioration would mean its closure.
The only way to reach the 3.5-mile stretch of the old Ozark Trail alignment of Route 66 lies several miles west, near a Shell gas station (map here). Don’t count on driving through the parking lot of the VFW hall near the bridge; access to the Ozark Trail is often blocked by a gate.
In the meantime, enjoy this video we produced two years ago about the Ozark Trail alignment of Route 66 near Sapulpa. Enjoy those old paths of Route 66 while you can; you never know if they’ll be taken away from you.