Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday she has asked for federally subsidized loan assistance for businesses in McClain and Cleveland counties that have been financially damaged by the temporary closure of the bridge that links Lexington and Purcell.
Transportation officials closed the bridge over the Canadian River on Jan. 31 after cracks were discovered in its 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, the governor said.
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.
“The increase in travel time has created an undue financial burden for the residents and small business owners in both counties and communities,” the governor wrote in her letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration. “The magnitude of the bridge closure presents unexpected consequences to these communities that could be difficult to recover from without extended support from the SBA.”
In Lexington, which has 2,150 residents, “the major decline in revenue has led to businesses moving or closing their doors permanently in order to avoid further indebtedness,” the governor wrote.