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ODOT: Fix To Cleveland County Bridge May Take Months

J. Stephen Conn
Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says a damaged bridge in Cleveland County will likely remain closed for several months, creating commuting nightmares for residents of Purcell and Lexington.

The James C. Nance bridge over the Canadian River connecting Lexington to Purcell was closed last week after the discovery of several cracks in the truss beams.

Department officials told the Oklahoma Transportation Commission this week that the repairs could take several months.

The closure isn't welcome news to many residents of Purcell and Lexington.

Lexington City Manager Charlie McCown tells The Norman Transcript many municipal workers typically only drive three or four miles daily to get to work. With the bridge closure, many now have to drive closer to 80 miles a day.

Lexington Police Chief Deanna Allen says many of her officers that live in Purcell clock in as soon as they start their vehicles.

“Paying them to drive an hour each way — for obvious budget reasons, that’s a concern,” Allen said. “Someone actually set up a camper behind the police department that they plan on sharing until the situation is resolved.” Another problem both police departments will have to deal with is mutual aid. Allen said the two departments have a mutual aid agreement with each other. “Purcell has always been our primary source of backup,” she said. “A lot of times, we only have one officer (on duty).”


The shortest alternate route between Purcell and Lexington.
Credit Google Maps
Google Maps
The shortest alternate route between Purcell and Lexington.

The Oklahoman reports hundreds gathered in the Lexington Fire Station Tuesday night for an ODOT meeting, searching for answers to the effect the bridge's closure has on their lives.

“This has a profound effect on us,” Lexington School Superintendent Denny Price said. “We have students who can't get to class and teachers who are finding it difficult to get to work.” Becky Deaton, who works at Delta Community Action, which serves hot meals to senior citizens, said she worries that Lexington's elderly residents won't be able to get their meals. “What are they supposed to do?” she said. “What am I supposed to do? I live literally two miles from my job, but now it takes 40 minutes to get there.”


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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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