By Joey McWilliams
LAKE TEXOMA – The commute across Lake Texoma on the Roosevelt Bridge had a feel of normality to it on Saturday, as both the westbound and eastbound lanes were open.
This will change on Sunday as the recovery efforts resume following a two-vehicle accident on Thursday that left a semi in the lake.
Lt. Scott Hampton of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said that was significant and talked about how the process will continue.
“The success of the day is that U.S. 70 was largely opened for most of the day,” Hampton said.
“Moving forward into the morning, at 7 a.m. we will issue a lane closure again and that will be done by escort vehicle. We expect some delays, but the highway will be open.
“Mid-morning, the recovery company is going to attempt to raise the semi and start its southerly transit to a boat ramp. At that point, we will increase our ‘no vessel area’ around that movement, because we can’t afford any disruptions in the load shifting.”
The accident occurred on Thursday afternoon at about 2 p.m. when a Chevrolet Cavalier collided with a Volvo semi. Both drivers were killed and identification is still pending.
The driver of the semi has been located and is still in the vehicle.
Hampton said the department is reaching out now to boaters as the work continues on Sunday.
“U.S. 70 is going to be disrupted, but for the boating community, we’re going to be restricting access in that same area we were yesterday and as the truck comes up into the depth they want to move it. Then we will push that access south and the marine division with the Corps of Engineers and fire departments will be restricting access to the lake up to a good distance south of the Roosevelt Bridge until they get the load to an area they want it.”
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation installed new safety railing along the south side of the bridge where the semi went through and into the lake. Hampton said the work done was not just something done to temporarily patch the hole.
“I spoke with the division engineer and the fix they put up there is true highway guardrail and the method they used to secure it to the bridge is going to be deemed a permanent fix.”