By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Oklahoma Department of Transportation representatives gave bridge updates Tuesday night to Lexington and Purcell residents during separate meetings.
ODOT head engineer Casey Shell said some additional potential cracks were located that could effect the 45-day opening of the bridge for traffic. However, Shell said it will not effect the overall time for the completion of the bridge, which is 120 days.
Even with the other potential cracks, Shell said it may not have an effect on the 45 days because the contractor is working aggressively toward the incentives. After the 45 days, or beginning repairs, the bridge will open with a 5-ton weight limit.
“They spent the weekend out here Saturday and Sunday verifying all the dimensions,” Shell said. “They measured and recorded all 264 locations on the bridge that they’re building these apparatuses for.”
Two hundred and fifty-four locations that were welded on the bridge caused some stresses on the structure, but there are only currently 11 confirmed cracks, Shell said. He predicted the first pieces will be in this weekend for the contractors to test to make sure everything fits with the design on the plans and make sure their methods work.
While the meeting provided more information for residents, some still have concerns.
Lexington resident Keith Shackleford said the meeting eased his mind a little bit, but he’s concerned that the contractor might not have the best quality work if they’re trying to get it done quickly to avoid extra fees due to time constraints.
As far as medical calls go, Wadley’s EMS in Lexington is looking at about a two-hour transport with the bridge out. Max Punneo with Wadley’s EMS in Lexington said they are working on getting another ambulance to Lexington, but the problem is funding.
“We’re working on it, though. They’re crunching the numbers,” Punneo said. “We can call Noble to come down and help if we get in a bind.”
As soon as the bridge is finished, ODOT expects it to last about 10 years, at which point a new bridge will be built, Shell said. The new bridge will be about a $40 million project.
“ODOT does a very good job of explaining and keeping everyone up to date of where they are and the fixes,” Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said. “As a county, we want to support Lexington and all the rural areas as much as we can at all times, but especially in this challenging period that we’re going through with the bridge. If anyone has any questions on the county level, I would encourage them to call at any time.”
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.