- The longest bridge in Oklahoma is the Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge.
- The bridge measures 5,462 feet long.
- This original structure, the Willis Bridge, was officially replaced in 2023.
Oklahoma has several rivers that wind through the region along with large lakes that create obstacles to travel. As a result, bridges are used to connect parts of the state, bypassing some of the difficult terrain present in the area. Out of all the bridges in the state, one is longer than any other. Learn about the longest bridge in Oklahoma and find out where it is located, how it came to be, and what wildlife lives nearby.
What Is the Longest Bridge in Oklahoma?
The longest bridge in Oklahoma is the newly completed Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge, a structure that measures 5,462 feet long. The bridge is also called the Willis Bridge, and it is operated by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. This bridge crosses the border between Willis, Oklahoma and Sherwood Shores, Texas. The bridge carries U.S. 377 across Lake Texoma, a large reservoir with sources in the Red River of the South and Washita River.
Technically, the US-70/US-183 over Red River is a little longer than the Willis Bridge, but the Texas Department of Transportation manages the structure. Also, only about 1,000 feet of it flows into Oklahoma. Major portions of the bridge are merely a raised roadway instead of the types of bridge structures that most people reading this would be interested in learning about.
This original structure, the Willis Bridge, was officially replaced in 2023. The new Willis Bridge was built alongside the old one, and it was designed to be both wider and taller than the old one. The bridge is a total of 44 feet wide featuring two, 12-foot-wide lanes for driving along with a 10-foot shoulder on each side.
Although this is hardly the largest bridge in the United States, it is a necessary one. This bridge is the only north-south crossing of Lake Texoma. Without it, the thousands of people that use the structure every day would have to go around for miles to cross the water.
A History of the Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge
In 2018, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission found that the former Willis Bridge was at the end of its lifespan. At that point, the 58-year-old bridge was riddled with potholes and had other issues that made it necessary to replace it.
The Oklahoma Transportation Commission finalized the design of the current Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge in November 2018. The estimated cost was between $42 and $43 million. The Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge opened on February 10, 2023.
The bridge was made taller and wider than the previous bridge while retaining the same overall length. The new bridge is a total of 5,462 feet long and 44 feet wide. The tallest portion of the bridge is about 80 feet tall from the bridge deck to the bottom of the lake.
The new bridge has shoulders, something the old one lacked, along with a greater height to facilitate boats traveling below it. The former bridge was too low for some types of boats to safely travel below it when the lake’s water level was high.
The demolition of the old bridge started in late February 2023, the day after the bridge opened to traffic.
The Second-Longest Bridge in the State May Have a Better Claim
Some people prefer that the record for the longest bridge in Oklahoma runs only in the state. If that were the case, then the Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge may have competition. After all, less than half of the modern Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge is located in Oklahoma. Two-thirds of its length is within Texas.
That being the case, another exceptionally long bridge that could hold the top spot would be the Old U.S. 66 Canadian River Bridge. This structure is known as the Bridgeport Bridge, the Pony Bridge, and the William H. Murray Bridge too.
This structure carries Highway 281 for 3,944.33 feet between Canadian and Caddo Counties in Oklahoma, passing over the Canadian River. The structure was built between 1932 and 1933. The bridge features 38 pony truss spans and approach spans. Some sources believe that it is the longest simple-span pony truss bridge in the entire country.
Still, strictly speaking, the Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge is the longest one in Oklahoma that is operated by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Where Is the Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge on a Map?
The Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge connects Willis, Oklahoma and Sherwood Shores, Texas by crossing Lake Texoma. The bridge is in the southern portion of Oklahoma near the center of the state, and it passes into the northeastern part of Texas.
Willis, Oklahoma is in Marshall County, and it is an unincorporated community in the region. Willis is best known as the home of the Megastar Casino. Sherwood Shores is in Grayson County, and it is also an unincorporated community in the area.
The easiest way to find the bridge would be by following U.S. Highway 377 between the two towns. Otherwise, you can look up a map of Lake Texoma. This bridge is the only one that travels north and south over the large lake.
Finding the longest bridge in Oklahoma is easy when using this information and the map above.
What Wildlife Lives Near the Bridge?
The Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge passes over Lake Texoma, an area rife with different fish. The following list shows some of the most prominent fish that live in the lake:
- Striped bass
- Largemouth bass
- White crappie
- Black crappie
- Smallmouth bass
- Alligator gar
- Flathead catfish
- Blue catfish
These are just a few of the fish that live in the lake. People travel to this lake to go fishing all the time. However, fishing in this lake requires a license and comes with bag limits. In other words, you can only take a few fish from the lake rather than filling up an entire cooler with them. Lake Texoma also has nearby campgrounds and various places with RV hookups nearby.
The longest bridge in Oklahoma is not entirely clear-cut. The longest structure that is entirely in the state may be Pony Bridge. However, the longest structure owned by Oklahoma is the Sherwood Shores-Willis Bridge which runs over Lake Texoma. The longest bridge that is partially in the state is US-70/US-183, but it only runs in the state for about 1,000 feet, it is owned and operated by Texas, and it is not the type of bridge that most people think about when looking for the longest one since it is more of a raised roadway than large spans.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Sean Pavone
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