Governor to discuss Purcell bridge repairs

Gov. Mary Fallin has scheduled a 12:45 p.m. news conference Friday to discuss extraordinary measures that will be taken to fix and reopen the bridge between Purcell and Lexington as quickly as possible.
by Randy Ellis Published: February 7, 2014
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photo - The James C. Nance Memorial Bridge over U.S. 77 and State Highway 39, which links Purcell and Lexington, remained closed Monday after state Transportation Department officials closed it last week because an inspection revealed that some of the beams had cracks.  Photo By Steve Gooch,  The Oklahoman
The James C. Nance Memorial Bridge over U.S. 77 and State Highway 39, which links Purcell and Lexington, remained closed Monday after state Transportation Department officials closed it last week because an inspection revealed that some of the beams had cracks. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

LEXINGTON — Gov. Mary Fallin has scheduled a 12:45 p.m. news conference Friday to discuss extraordinary measures that will be taken to expedite the repair and reopening of the bridge between Purcell and Lexington.

Details were still being worked out late Thursday, but some expedited efforts are already in progress.

State transportation officials declared an emergency, which will enable them to shorten the design and bidding process from months to days, said Terri Angier, transportation department spokeswoman.

“We certainly understand the crisis and inconvenience this has created for the two communities and we are doing everything we possibly can to try to resolve this problem,” Angier said.

Modjeski and Masters, the premier national expert on this complex type of bridge design, was brought in from Pennsylvania and is expected to have a draft repair design done by late Friday or Monday, Angier said. The final design is expected to be completed on Wednesday.

Until that design is done, it will be impossible to accurately estimate the time and cost of repairs, Angier said.

Financial incentives are likely to be offered to encourage contractors to work long hours and complete the project as quickly as possible, she said.

Fallin plans to tour the bridge with local officials before holding her news conference at the Lexington Fire Department.

The Oklahoma Transportation Department ordered the 76-year-old bridge closed on Jan. 31 after finding 22 cracks in the beams of the truss system that created a risk of collapse in the bridge that spans the Canadian River.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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