The Norman Transcript

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April 10, 2014

Fallin seeks aid for businesses affected by closure of memorial bridge

NORMAN — Purcell business owner Greg Lucy wrote to the governor this week. Lucy owns Purcell Farm and Ranch Supply, a business that depends heavily on trade from Lexington and surrounding areas.

The recent closure of the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge has dramatically affected his ability to do business.

“On a map, these are two cities in two different counties,” Lucy said. “In reality, this is one extended community with a river running through it.”

Lucy told Gov. Mary Fallin he would appreciate any help available for local businesses.

“A prolonged closure of this bridge is going to cause some business failure on both sides of the bridge,” Lucy said.

Fallin has responded with a letter of her own. She is asking for an Economic Injury Declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration to qualify businesses affected by the closure of the bridge to seek federal aid through low-interest loans.

The bridge connecting Lexington and Purcell was closed after cracks were found in the beams of the truss system that supports the 76-year-old structure.

With the bridge out, people are unable to cross the Canadian River, turning a 10-minute trip into a 45-minute detour route. Repairs started Jan. 31. State officials said the bridge is expected to open in mid-June.

Meanwhile, local businesses like Purcell Farm & Ranch are feeling the pinch.

“I’m proud of the governor for her help in looking out for the Lexington and Purcell area,” said state Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “This has been a very difficult time for us. We have some businesses that could go under if it stays closed that long.”

Originally, the bridge was expected to reopen within 45 days of the closure, but when more cracks were found by contractors in mid-March, the repair timeline stretched to 120 days.

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