TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is using a new and innovative method to replace a bridge near the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex on Bald Hill Road that was damaged during catastrophic flooding in May.

The bridge repair, which is a joint project between the Cherokee Nation Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and Cherokee County District 3, will utilize a Fast Cast Bridge to reopen a main community road that has been closed since the flooding.

“From our historic self-governance agreement with the United States to these kinds of innovative construction techniques, we are in a new era of progress in improving roads and bridges across the Cherokee Nation Reservation,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

A Fast Cast Bridge is a cutting-edge approach that saves time by using steel forms constructed in a manufacturing facility, as well as prefabricated concrete beams.

“We are always looking for ways to expedite the construction process for road and bridge projects,” said Michael Lynn, Executive Director of Cherokee Nation’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This innovative approach to constructing bridges was something that caught my eye recently, and I felt that Bald Hill Road was a perfect location for the Fast Cast Bridge system. This system allows bridges to be built in weeks rather than months.”

The Fast Cast Bridge was delivered to the Bald Hill Road site last week, with the concrete set to be placed to fill bridge walls and to create a deck and floor for the bridge afterward. The bridge is expected to reopen to traffic in about a week.

“The community has had to use an alternate route, adding a 2.5-mile detour since the bridge failed in May,” said Cherokee Nation Director of Transportation Andy Quetone. “The Cherokee Nation Department of Transportation is excited about using a proven, innovative method to replace old and damaged bridges on our Reservation. This process will take bridge replacement from a usual 60- to 90-day repair or replacement, to a few weeks, creating less disruption for citizens’ lives and allowing for safer travel in a timelier manner."

Cherokee Nation is using the federal Tribal Transportation Program to fund the $700,000 project.

The Cherokee Nation’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure plans to use this technology in the future to speed up road and bridge projects.