Reconstruction of Pony Bridge near Bridgeport won’t start until June

Those traveling Route 66 during the first half of 2022 have good news: The reconstruction project that will close the Pony Bridge near Bridgeport, Oklahoma, for at least two years won’t begin until June.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Association on Facebook passed along the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s updated word about the bridge project this week.

“That gives 2022 travelers a bit more time to enjoy this unique crossing before the work begins!” the association stated.

During the initial announcement of the project in September 2020, officials said construction would begin in early 2022.

ODOT received a $22 million grant from the federal government to rehabilitate and reconstruct the historic Route 66 bridge.

In short, the bridge will be widened to modern standards but with its iconic pony trusses reattached for aesthetic reasons.

Rhys Martin, president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, commented about the project on a thread with the Historic Route 66 group on Facebook:

This has been a long-gestating project that has evolved from wholesale demolition to permanent closure to now this hybrid approach that keeps the visual aesthetic intact and the bridge open for traffic for the next 100+ years.
While my ultimate preference is 100% preservation of the bridge, this is a far sight better than the original proposals. As part of the mitigation for the adverse affect this will have, we are working to have a turnout added to one end of the bridge (to allow safe parking, photography, and some interpretive panels that tell the history of the bridge) and an update to the historic roadbed survey in the area.

Martin added he’ll pass along a firm date of the bridge’s closing once he hears it.

The Pony Bridge, aka William H. Murray Bridge, remains one of Route 66’s most iconic spans.

Built in 1934, it stretches more than 3,900 feet over the South Canadian River and consists of 38 yellow “pony” trusses, hence its better-known nickname.

The bridge appears in the 1939 Oscar-winning film “The Grapes of Wrath.” In 2016, the bridge appeared on Preservation Oklahoma’s Most Endangered Historic Places list.

(Image of the Pony Bridge near Bridgeport, Oklahoma, via the National Register of Historic Places nomination form)

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