Oklahoma DOT created a safer passage for drivers on the US-81/Route 66 Rock Island Bridge with a nod to its history with its $10 million landmark bridge project.
The US-81/Route 66 Rock Island Bridge opened on September 20, 1946, after the end of World War II. It served as a railroad overpass and gateway to the City of El Reno for nearly 75 years but had reached the end of its useful lifespan. It also is part of historic Route 66. The bridge was structurally deficient, which meant that it had to be closely and constantly monitored to ensure that it was safe – a headache for motorists. Oklahoma DOT had constantly relied on maintenance resources to keep it in service, such as patching holes in the deck, which was costly and time-consuming.
The new bridge provides the community with a safe and structurally sound bridge to cross the Union Pacific Railroad. Oklahoma DOT collaborated with the City of El Reno to add Route 66 aesthetics to the bridge, celebrating that historic connection to the Mother Road. Thus, the community has a new landmark that likely will continue to bring tourists to the city and potentially increase commerce.