The Norman Transcript

Editorials

February 4, 2014

Closing a lifeline bridge

NORMAN — The Canadian River bridge connecting Lexington and Purcell is a lifeline for those two communities. An estimated 9,000 vehicles per day cross the span, which opened in 1938.

Friday’s closing will be a blow to motorists and businesses that rely on the traffic between the two communities. Cracks found on the east end of the bridge last month prompted the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to lower the load limit and then eventually close the span to any traffic.

ODOT said that once the cracking is stopped, the bridge will be reassessed to determine if it can safely be reopened to vehicles.

The detour routes suggest drivers take Interstate 35 north to State Highway 9 in Norman and then south on U.S. 77 to Lexington.

The bridge was put on the structurally deficient list in September 2012 because of its outdated design standard. In 2007, the state had 1,100 bridges on the structurally deficient list, but ODOT has since cut that number to 556, he said.

In these times of extreme drought, the suggestion of a low-water crossing isn’t just a joking matter. If the bridge has to be replaced, an interim crossing, similar to that done with the Interstate in Oklahoma City in the early 1980s, might be warranted.

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