| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Learn while you earn.

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Catfish Stall Bridge Replacement Work

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More items for Environmental Controls

Comment | More

Work on a $5.8 million bridge project in Oklahoma has come to a standstill after a change in the bridge's design caused concern with federal officials.

Worried about threats to the three-inch-long endangered madtom catfish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a stop-work July 28 on construction of the new Stepps Ford Bridge in Ottawa County, OK, until an environmental study is completed.

Specifically, USFWS has taken issue with the contractor's plan to build a cofferdam in the Neosho River to accommodate constructing a seven-span bridge, instead of the five-span bridge that already had environmental clearance.

Stepps Ford Bridge

Concern over endangered catfish has halted work on the Stepps Ford Bridge's $5.8 million replacement project. The existing bridge has been closed for two years.

The Pratt through-truss bridge has two 180-foot-long spans and was originally built in 1901, crossing the Neosho River at Main St. in Miami, OK. It was relocated to its current location at E. 60 Road near Commerce in the 1920s, according to

'Kind of Frustrating'

Only four populations of these catfish remain in the world, and they live primarily in the Neosho River, according to the USFWS. The Neosho River runs through eastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma.

The USFWS's study will determine if the two extra piers could disrupt the madtom catfish habitat.

Ottawa County Commission John Clarke told it will take at least 90 days to complete the study, "so we're looking at probably four months minimum to start construction again."

The bridge project originally had environmental clearance, but the design had to be changed last month.

"They actually modified the design to be able to put shorter spans in there, and by doing so, it required two additional piers," Clarke explained.

The dilapidated bridge has been closed for two years, and medical services have to travel a 22-mile-detour to get to the other side of the river, Clarke said, according to

"It's kind of frustrating," Clarke said, adding: "I'm concerned about fish and wildlife, and I'm an avid hunter and fisherman, and I don't want to be the guy who puts a little catfish into extinction."

Pier Placing Alternatives

Ottawa County commissioners are expected to meet with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to examine alternatives for placing the piers and to try to reach an agreement with the USFWS.

madtom catfish
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Only four populations of the three-inch-long endangered madtom catfish remain in the world, according to the USFWS.

John Blickensderfer, vice president of engineering for contractor Guy Engineering, told The Miami News-Record that ODOT thinks the method to build the piers, not the increased number, is an issue.

The contractor had planned to build a cofferdam, Blickensderfer said, but USFWS said dewatering around the piers could wipe out the madtom population.

Most likely, the approved plan will require drilling holes for the piers in the water, inserting casements, and pumping water out of the casements before concrete is poured.

County commissioners expect the contractor to ask for an extra $40,000 to $50,000 because of the delay.

"If we can come up with an alternate way of getting the piers in place, obviously we'll save some money that way," Clarke said.

Additionally, the existing bridge needs to come down before opening the new one, but wildlife experts said taking down those piers will disrupt the fish habitat.

Seeking ESA Reform

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighed in on the situation, stating: "The plight of the Stepps Ford Bridge construction project just illustrates why the Chamber has supported a bill that would bring long-needed reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by incorporating more transparency, accountability, and better science into how the Act is implemented."

Oklahoma DOT
Oklahoma DOT

Built in 1901, the Stepps Ford Bridge featured two 180-foot-long spans. It originally crossed the Neosho River near Miami, OK, but was moved to its current location in the 1920s.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. According to the Chamber, 1,500 species and sub-species have been listed since the law was enacted.

The bill, H.R. 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act, amends the ESA to require scientific and commercial data be made publicly available as the basis for determining whether a species is endangered or threatened, including each proposed regulation for a species listing.

'Very Little Success'

"Unfortunately, the implementation of the ESA over the last four decades has stunted economic development, halted the construction of projects, and burdened landowners—all with very little success in the actual recovery of species (only 2% of the species listed have recovered)," the Chamber said.

The bill also calls for making details available on federal spending for ESA-related litigation and limiting the award of ESA-related litigation costs.

The House approved the bill on July 29 by a vote of 233-190. However, the Chamber says its passage in the Senate "is uncertain, at best."


Tagged categories: Bridges; Contracts; Design; Environmental Protection; Project Management

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (8/6/2014, 11:12 AM)

It’s obvious that this project has been poorly managed - why would any design and construction team change the design after spending time and money for required permits and clearance?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/7/2014, 8:30 AM)

Andrew: Money! It could have been the State pre-cleared a basic design plan, and the contractor figured he could save money by substituting another.

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (8/7/2014, 10:06 AM)

Yes - I agree, and I am all for cost savings - but I think that they should have brought their cost saving plan to the table earlier on.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Control the Tank with DRYCO

Temporary climate control equipment. Dehumidifiers,
Heaters, A/C, Power, More…
Call: 866-379-2600

N.T. Ruddock Co.

Our Abrasives Hold Up Under Pressure

N. T. Ruddock focuses on abrasive selection, equipment evaluation, equipment maintenance & reduction of abrasive consumption. Other services include Screen Analysis & Background Radiation Testing.

Novatek Corporation
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal

Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800

Specialty Products, Inc. (SPI)
Polyurea & Polyurethane Spray Foam Training

SPI is committed to industry leading technical training for polyurea & polyurethane spray foam professionals. Attendees receive hands-on, in-depth training for using and troubleshooting plural-component equipment, spray guns, machine hoses & parts.

Atlantic Design, Inc.

to see what we did to this dust collector! ADI can increase the efficiency and life of your equipment! Any brand, for less than new! 866.Call.ADI

HoldTight Solutions Inc.

Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rust preventer prevents flash rust by removing surface contaminants. It has no equal; only wannabees.
Contact us for your
nearest distributor.
(800) 319.8802

Vector Technologies Ltd.
The Original Performance Proven Vacuum Solutions

Vecloader DV 145, 350hp 6200 CFM & 28’’hg. For those big jobs, choose Vector for the most powerful trailer mounted vacuum in the industry today. 800-832-4010, 414-247-7100.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
Portable Blast &
Recovery Equipment

Trailer or skid mounted blast and recovery equipment. Systems designed for maximum versatility, environmental compliance
and overall cost savings.
Call 1-800-634-7278

Wasser High-Tech Coatings Inc.
Polyflex® Polyurea Linings

Polyflex ™ new Polyurea Geotextile Membrane System has been specifically engineered to protect the environment in containment applications.

Safway Services
Superior Suspended Access with QuikDeck®

Get improved platform stability with QuikDeck®. Open workspace designed for fast installation and safety. Easily moved to reduce cost. Safe to the environment.

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2016, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail