By Andy Rieger
The Norman Transcript
LEXINGTON — Transit buses carrying passengers back and forth on the hour-long detour route between Lexington and Purcell began service Friday afternoon.
The schedule, posted on www.okladot.state.ok.us, lists ten weekday buses begining at 6 a.m. in Purcell at the Flex Works parking lot, 605 S. Green Avenue and arriving in Lexington at the First Baptist Church, 900 E. Broadway.
The weekend schedule includes eight different times beginning at 7 a.m. on both sides of the bridge. The bus service is free and is ADA compliant.
State officials enlisted the help of transit services throughout the state to provide the service after the Highway 77/39 bridge over the Canadian River was closed Jan. 31. Repairs are expected to begin Feb. 14. Inspectors found cracks in 22 spots througout the bridge. Officials initially reduced the load limit then closed the bridge a week later.
Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday said she expected the repairs to take up to four months but the 3,800 foot long bridge could be reopened to cars before that. If cars alone are allowed to pass, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol will monitor the traffic to make sure no trucks pass on the 76-year-old span.
In other developments, First American Bank will open a branch in Lexington to serve its customers there. Additionally, the Purcell hospital is considering offering services in Lexington.