BERNICE — The bridge on SH 85A in Bernice was first designated by the Oklahoma Highway Commission as “structurally deficient” in 2003. Since that time, the bridge has had several repairs.

The state held a public hearing in January 2016 to discuss the needed repairs and the replacement cost was estimated at $7.7 million.

When the actual replacement work began on Monday, Oct. 19, the cost has nearly doubled to $15 million. The replacement work will be done by C-Gawf Construction of Henryetta.

On Monday, equipment began arriving and the bridge is expected to have one-way with traffic regulated by a traffic signal about two months into the project.

The new bridge will contain two 12-foot wide driving lanes, and two 10-foot wide shoulders. It will be built slightly higher with a 14-foot boat clearance at the lake’s normal pool level.

The replacement plans took into consideration the existing City of Bernice fishing dock as well as the needs of the Grand Lake State Park.

The bridge is designed to withstand a growth in traffic patterns during the course of the next 20 years.

A traffic study, completed by ODOT in 2014, indicates the bridge had an average daily traffic (AADT) of 3,300 vehicles per day. That number is expected to grow to 4,600 by 2034.

The bridge is about 54 years old having been constructed in 1966. Highway officials said that many of the piers used in its construction came from the original railroad bridge at that site. Bridges are now designed for 75 years of use.