The U.S. Small Business Administration has rejected Gov. Mary Fallin’s request to make federally subsidized disaster loans available to Lexington and Purcell businesses adversely impacted by the Jan. 31 closure of a bridge over the Canadian River.
“I am extremely disappointed in SBA’s decision to deny economic injury loans to businesses suffering from this unexpected bridge closure,” Fallin said Thursday in a news release. “The bridge’s closure has caused economic hardships to many businesses in Lexington and Purcell, with some reporting a 30 to 50 percent decline in sales as a result of the bridge being closed.”
Federal officials said in their denial letter that the Jan. 31 closure of the bridge that links Lexington and Purcell doesn’t meet the definition of a disaster declaration, which is described in the Small Business Act as “a sudden event which causes severe damage.”
The governor said there is no appeal process.
The Small Business Administration has offered to assist businesses in finding aid that may be available through other organizations, she said.
The James C. Nance Memorial Bridge which links Lexington and Purcell was closed by state transportation officials on Jan. 31 after cracks were found in the truss structure following a bridge rehabilitation project that went awry.
Repairs to the 76-year-old bridge are underway with a targeted completion date of June 14. In the meantime, businesses are suffering as people who once just drove over the bridge to get between Lexington and Purcell now must take a 45-minute detour.
Many businesses have lost customers, which also has resulted in loss of sales tax revenue for Lexington and Purcell.