Months after the bridge connecting the towns of Purcell and Lexington reopened from repairs, there are new issues of big trucks not obeying the posted weight limit.
It was packed house at First Baptist Church in Lexington Monday night as residents of both towns voiced their concerns of bridge safety and the new bridge construction timeline.
It was standing room only as many residents questioned Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials on why the heavy trucks have been allowed to cross the bridge.
Currently, the bridge has 38-ton restriction until a new one can be built.
“Will one truck or two trucks cause us a big concern to the safety of the bridge? No. But we do know that we have to keep an eye on it and we will keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't become a pervasive problem,” said Casey Shell, ODOT chief engineer.
But before a contractor can get to work, an environmental study and new design has to be completed.
“It needs to be moved up more. Whether it's a year faster or six months faster, it needs to be done now,” said Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-District 20.
Rep. Cleveland hosted the forum to answer questions about why the bridge is no longer strictly monitored as it was months ago and why farmers are being affected most by the weight restriction.
And though many questions were still left unanswered, many walked away with a better understanding.
“Anything we need to produce the crop, we come across the bridge, and so it just adds to the cost of us doing business, but I'm also a parent so I'm concerned about, you know, the safety of my child and my family crossing the bridge,” said Lexington resident Susan Moffat.
Construction for a new bridge costing $37 million could start in 2018.