Another setback for crews making repairs to the James C. Nance bridge that connects Lexington and Purcell. Inspectors found two cracks in different areas of the bridge from the original cracks. It was frustrating news but a plan to stop these new cracks has already been put in place.
ODOT Chief Engineer Casey Shell said it was critical to fix and reinforce the new areas of cracking because they pose a disastrous threat.
"That gusset plate is the area that's prone to failure on the i-35 bridge in Minnesota when it collapsed so we wanted to make this these are reinforced and stiffened," explained Shell.
That collapse in Minnesota killed 13 people. Engineers working on the bridge in Oklahoma, however, remained confident they could repair the new cracks and fully reinforce those areas. Officials expected the repairs to cost an additional $1-1.5 million, bringing the total amount poured into the bridge up to $15-16 million.
The good news, according to ODOT and the firm making the repairs was that these new cracks developed on the same manganese material the original cracks did, just in different areas. That should mean all the manganese areas will be reinforced and no additional cracks should develop anywhere else on the bridge.
ODOT still expects the repairs to give the bridge an additional 10 years of use but they hope to start construction on a new bridge within the next five years. The James C. Nance bridge is expected to re-open by mid-June.