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2003 - Government Agencies Awards - Beautification & Landscaping - ODOT

When an errant barge slammed into the supporting columns of the Interstate 40 bridge over the Arkansas River a year and a half ago, the ensuing collapse claimed 14 lives. Although the people of nearby Webbers Falls quickly erected a simple memorial to help begin the healing process, they also requested and received funding from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for a permanent memorial.

Completed in time for the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, it consists of a bronze statue of a small child -- symbolizing the innocence of the victims -- releasing a dove into the air. The statue is mounted on an original bridge beam section placed on a 14-sided base, and on each side is inscribed a victim's name. Adjacent are 14 evergreen trees as well as five columns representing those who survived the catastrophe.

Our judges say "thank you" to those who participated in creating this simple, beautiful memorial. There is no "good news" that could be connected to this awful tragedy, but for family members, survivors, rescuers and others there is now a peaceful place to reflect and remember along a forested river bank thanks to a special partnership between Webbers Falls and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.