- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LEXINGTON, Okla. (AP) - Residents who live near a bridge between Lexington and Purcell gathered at a local church this week to ask state transportation officials about the structure.

Up to 300 residents attended a meeting on Monday night to hear state Transportation Director Mike Patterson and a chief transportation engineer talk about the bridge, The Norman Transcript reported (https://bit.ly/1v1G9y6 ).

The bridge closed in January after cracks were found and reopened in June after more than $20 million in repairs. The state’s transportation department imposed new weight restrictions because of concerns about the bridge’s structural integrity. It had a standard 40-ton weight limit, but now it is 36 tons.

Patterson said transportation officials have been told repeatedly that residents want the old bridge to remain in use for as long as possible, until a new $38 million bridge can be built. He compared the old bridge’s condition to a paper clip that works only so long before it bends and snaps.

“We are monitoring the situation,” Patterson said.

He told the crowd he believes a new structure can be installed five years earlier than expected. The bridge was projected to be finished in 2023, but Patterson told residents that it could be nearly completed in 2018.

Jerry Moffat, whose family members have lived in the Lexington area for decades, said he was pleased to learn it’s possible for the construction time to be sped up.

___

Information from: The Norman Transcript, https://www.normantranscript.com

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