Oatman Road near Topock, Arizona, will be closed for four days starting today while an innovative new bridge is built over a flood-prone wash.
The Arizona Department of Transportation and Mohave County are constructing a prefabricated bridge over Sacramento Wash on Oatman Road (aka Route 66) one mile north of Interstate 40, according to a news release from the agency.
Motorists who need to go to Oatman, Arizona, will be detoured 24 miles through Needles, California. taking the J Street/Downtown exit and following signs toward Arizona 95 North/Bullhead City.
According to ADOT:
Mohave County received a $1 million FHWA Accelerated Innovation Deployment Discretionary Grant toward the $1.8 million project. The bridge will provide an approximate 110-foot clear span that will pass the two-year, 30-minute storm event.
Accelerated bridge construction using prefabricated elements saves time and money, while constructing the bridge elements off-site greatly reduces traffic restrictions needed for construction ‒ in this case, days instead of weeks or months.
“This initiative saves an estimated $2.6 million in road-user impacts to traditional bridge construction methods,” Mohave County Public Works Director Steven P. Latoski said. “That includes work zone delays and a costly, long-term detour to commuters, businesses and visitors who depend on the Oatman Highway corridor.”
According to a news release from the FHA, the bridge will use a reinforced soil foundation and abutment to also save time and money.
Sacramento Wash has caused the county and motorists headaches over the years because monsoon rains not only flood the roadway, but make it often impassable with mud and debris after \waters recede. The wash has proven so troublesome, Mohave County maintains a traffic camera on it 24 hours a day to keep watch.
There’s another apparent reason why the state and county decided to build a bridge in four days: Oatman draws 500,000 tourists a year, and any sort of road disruption would damage its economy. Four days for bridge construction is immensely preferable to weeks or months.
If this prefab-bridge project proves successful, don’t be surprised to see other states and counties use it.
(Hat tip to KTAR radio; image of Sacramento Wash via Mohave County Flood Control District)