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February 7, 2014

Governor to visit closed bridge, outline ways to help area residents

LEXINGTON — Gov. Mary Fallin will visit the closed bridge over the Canadian River this afternoon.

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, said the governor will outline a series of short-term and long-term initiatives to assist area residents in dealing with the closing.

“We’ve got to do something to help these people out,” Cleveland said.

The visit will be at noon at the Lexington Town Hall, and Fallin will go to the closed bridge, which is a couple of blocks away.

Some local officials want to enlist the Oklahoma National Guard to build a temporary, low-water bridge for local residents. The closure has affected schools, churches and numerous businesses that rely on trade between the two communities.

Last month, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation closed the James Nance bridge that carries State Highway 77 and State Highway 39 traffic across the river.

Cracks were found in the bridge, which was built in 1938. The detour route forces drivers to go north to State Highway 9 or east to Wanette to cross the Canadian River.

Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said he has asked the county’s engineering firm to see if some type of temporary crossing is even possible.

Rod Cleveland, who grew up in the area, said he knows how important the bridge is to residents on both sides of the bridge.

“It’s kind of personal for me,” Rod Cleveland said.

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