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January 22, 2014

Bridge connecting Purcell, Lexington suffers damage

LEXINGTON — The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office was notified Tuesday by Lexington law enforcement that the bridge over the Canadian River connecting Lexington to Purcell was “significantly damaged.”

The James C. Nance bridge has significant damage on the east end. Due to the damage, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has dropped the weight limit to travel across the bridge.

Larry Clore, ODOT public information officer, said during inspection Monday, some damage was found, at which time they restricted the bridge’s weight limit to five tons until they can further examine it.

Because of the weight restriction, not even a school bus could cross the bridge. The bridge carries traffic for US 77 and State Highway 39 from McClain County to Cleveland County.

Clore said Tuesday that a bridge team looked at the damage, did some software calculations and decided it was safe to raise the weight limit to 16 tons.

“That alleviates a lot of problems Purcell and Lexington would have,” Clore said, regarding school bus transportation and emergency vehicles crossing the bridge.

The weight limit still restricts some large semi-trucks, he said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, ODOT told local law enforcement they are working with engineers to find a solution to the problem and will notify local law enforcement as soon as they have a solution.

“That bridge was built in 1938, so it’s pretty old,” Clore said, “but if there was anything unsafe about the bridge we would close it.”

The bridge was put on the structurally deficient list in September 2012 because of its outdated design standard, Clore said.

“It doesn’t make it inherently dangerous,” he said. “We’re currently trying to go throughout the state and either repair or replace these bridges.”

In 2007, the state had 1,100 bridges on the structurally deficient list, but ODOT has since cut that number to 556, he said.

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