An updated but unofficial estimate for fixing up Tulsa’s Cyrus Avery Bridge sets a floor of at least $26.6 million.
The Tulsa Route 66 Commission envisions the bridge as a venue for tourists and events. The updated figure the commission got Tuesday is based on an estimate for a similar plan officials had 15 years ago, when a study said the bridge essentially needed a rebuild from the arches up at a cost of about $16 million.
City Engineer Paul Zachary said not much has been done since.
"But for it being an arch bridge — if it were an older type of just plain, concrete beam bridge — it would have already been in the water," Zachary said.
The $26.6 million figure is the 2005 rehab estimate adjusted for inflation plus costs for design work and a new engineering study. Zachary said restoration involves complex work to protect existing structures and, sometimes, fixing damage no one knew about.
"You need to spend more up front than what you would, like, on a normal bridge that’s brand-new. Any time you get into retrofits and renovations, you see the shows. There’s always the surprises," Zachary said.
Cyrus Avery Bridge is actually two structures built almost 20 years apart. The upstream structure is older and in worse shape.
Tulsa Route 66 Commission Finance Chair Ken Busby said realizing the neglect of the Route 66 landmark is disheartening.
"If we’d been giving it proper maintenance for the last 70, 80 years, we wouldn’t be in this shape today. And so, it’s like, 'Gosh, I wish somebody had invested in it then and recognized its value,'" Busby said.
Another complication: When officials considered a plan to make the bridge a pedestrian attraction 15 years ago, state preservationists warned the work was too extensive and could cost Cyrus Avery Bridge its National Register of Historic Places listing.