Lexington-Purcell Bridge Reopens After Months Of Repairs
PURCELL, Oklahoma - People in the town of Lexington and Purcell celebrated Friday afternoon as the James C. Nance Bridge finally reopened after months of repair.
The bridge connecting the two towns has been closed off to drivers for about 4 months as construction crews' work to repair the bridge. It was deemed unsafe to travel across by structural engineers after cracks were found.
"The big news is the bridge is opening today, so it will save both Lexington and Purcell and help everybody out," said Purcell Vice Mayor John Chilvers.
Built in 1938, the bridge closed on the morning of January 31st after ODOT found a dozen cracks, and later discovered more than 100. The length repairs frustrated residents, who rely on the bridge.
"I've had to make several trips in one day to go pick up my mother, take her to the doctor, come back, bring her back over here so it's been a drive," said resident Kyle Cardinal.
Cardinal's grandfather helped to build the bridge. He died the week it closed.
The Railhead Diner, only footsteps away from the bridge, saw an immediate drop in customers.
"At least 75 percent, but we stuck through it," said owner Christy King.
With the bridge now open, she believes business will boom again.
"I've got people messaging me non-stop on Facebook from Lexington saying we can't wait to get over there for breakfast," said King. "I'm like good, come on in!"
Late Friday afternoon, crews removed all the closed signs, in prep for the Governor to drive across it and officially open the bridge.
"Just the community spirit that everybody decided let's pull together. Let's figure out how to make this work to the best of our ability that's what Oklahoma's about that's what makes Oklahoma such a special place," said Gov. Mary Fallin.
All the repairs cost $21 million. ODOT says there will be a 15-ton weight limit on the bridge for at least two months. The bridge is expected to be replaced in 5 years, costing about $40 million.