EFFORTS by Oklahoma transportation officials to repair a bridge that links Lexington and Purcell experienced another setback this week.
Contractors working to repair the James C. Nance Bridge noticed more cracks in the bridge’s structure in areas where they didn’t expect to see damage, Casey Shell, chief engineer for the state Transportation Department, said Tuesday.
Although the new cracks could cost as much as $1.5 million to fix, Shell said he doesn’t expect that will delay the project’s June 14 completion date.
Transportation officials closed the bridge in January after an inspection revealed 22 cracks in the beams of the 76-year-old bridge’s truss system. The bridge carries U.S. 77 and State Highway 39 across the Canadian River, providing the only convenient link between Lexington and Purcell.
Because of the closure, motorists who normally would be able to drive a few minutes from Lexington to Purcell must make a two-hour round-trip drive using the quickest alternate route.
Transportation Department officials acknowledged that the department created the problem when it hired a contractor to weld brackets and install tension rods onto the bridge. Rather than strengthening the bridge, the work created 264 weak points along the structure that are vulnerable to cracking.