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Questionable commemoration

Gazette staff November 2nd, 2011

What better way to commemorate the centennial of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation than with a postcard exhibiting one of the state’s most notorious transit disasters?

The state Department of Transportation developed a series of 25 postcards featuring photos of important events or projects the department has been involved in, such as a barge navigating the Arkansas River; the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Turner Turnpike; Wiley Post standing in front of his airplane; and the Interstate 40 bridge collapse near Webbers Falls.

Wait, what was that last one, again? An aerial photo on one side of the card shows the collapsed bridge, still draped across the barge that struck it, causing it to weaken and collapse.

The free postcards give a brief description on the reverse side, and the Webbers Falls card states: “2000s — Tragedy strikes: When an errant barge knocked down a section of the I-40 bridge near Webbers Falls in 2002, 14 motorists died.” The description goes on to state how the tragedy became a catalyst for transportation improvements throughout the state, followed by the words “JOIN THE CELEBRATION – 100 Years of Transportation 1911-2011.”

An individual posting the card on Facebook wrote that they were speechless when they saw it and had to take a picture of it to prove they were not hallucinating. People commenting on the photo stated, among other things, that the card was a “marketing fail.” “Next in the series: Murrah Building. Caption: ‘Downtown Oklahoma City is really poppin’!’” one facetious Facebook friend commented.

Mills Gotcher, spokeswoman for ODOT, said the cards were intended to show historical events that had an impor tant impact on the department. The card was not meant to be insensitive to the victims of the collapse, Gotcher said, but rather highlight an event that ended up having a major impact on funding for roads and bridges throughout the state.

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11.02.2011 at 06:54 Reply

Did it have a major impact on funding for roads and bridges?  After the work (and I use the term loosely) done on the I-44 Belle Isle bridge it literally has the appearance of bandaids on the deck.  And in the south bound lane of that same bridge I've already witnessed one such patch begin to return to it's previous pothole glory.

Perhaps the postcard illustrates that the only way a bridge get's replaced in Oklahoma is after it kills some people.  Food for thought.

I can't help but wonder what the postcards for Japan's Fukushima Reactor will say.  Might I suggest "Fukushima, where real X-men are born."