The Norman Transcript

March 7, 2014

Engineers finding more cracks in closed bridge

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

LEXINGTON — Engineers from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and hired consultants were back at the James C. Nance Bridge Friday in hopes of getting a handle on numerous metal cracks that have closed the structure for more than a month.

Department spokesman Terry Angier said an announcement would be made at Monday’s Transportation Commission meeting regarding the 76-year old SH 77/39 bridge over the Canadian River.

“This alloy is very challenging to us,” Angier said. “It’s really got us concerned.”

Contractors began emergency repairs on Feb. 14 and had hoped to get the bridge linking Purcell and Lexington open to limited vehicle traffic within 45 days. The contractor has 120 days to repair the bridge and has financial incentives to complete the work sooner.

Angier said the varying temperatures may be a factor in workers discovering the cracks.

“They (engineers) are looking at a few different scenarios and want to be definite by Monday,” Angier said.

The bridge closure has caused traffic to re-route what formerly was a five-minute trip into a nearly 45-minute leg each way. A free shuttle bus between the two cities has been busy but businesses, churches, families and schools are suffering.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission will meet at 11 a.m. Monday in the R.A. Ward Transportation Building, 200 NE 21st,  Oklahoma City. ODOT officials are expected to provide a detailed report to commissioners about the ongoing emergency repair work.  

Commissioners also are expected to vote on awarding a contract to reconstruct and widen more than a mile of SH-9 near 24th Avenue in Norman. This is part of a larger effort to eventually widen SH-9 to four lanes between Norman and Tecumseh.