LEXINGTON, Okla. – After thousands of Oklahomans had their daily routines disrupted because of the closure of a popular bridge, Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a State of Emergency for the area.
Fallin declared a State of Emergency in Cleveland and McClain counties because of the closure of the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge.
Lexington and Purcell are two miles apart, but it takes at least 50 minutes to travel between the two towns.
A vital link was shut down last week after 22 cracks were found in the support system.
From getting to the nearest emergency room to just running errands, the bridge closure affects everything.
Barber Smokey Dunaway and his customers say they go to Purcell to do simple things like go to the bank and pay their bills.
On the Lexington side, Dunaway is losing business.
“My problem is people getting here,” says Dunaway. “I have a lot of business across the river. 60 percent of my business comes from across the river.”
They say they thought they’d never get any help until Gov. Fallin traveled to see the bridge for herself and declared a State of Emergency.
Gov. Fallin says, “The bridge we just went and saw is at risk of collapsing and still is at risk of collapsing.”
Residents say they want it done right and quickly.
Rehabbing this bridge would usually take a year but this community has made it clear they can’t wait that long.
The governor has given the people of the two towns a timeline of at least four months, moving the project up to the top of ODOT’s agenda.
Rondall Elliott says, “She said what we needed to hear. That they’re working on it now. They need to do what they said they was going to do.”
Resident says hearing state officials say help is on the way is great, but they want to hear less talking and see more doing.
“It affects everybody,” says Myers. “We’re little people and all we can do is wait.”
The State of Emergency makes funds available to Cleveland and McClain counties.
Each county can receive up to $100,000 to reimburse expenses incurred due to the bridge closure.
Authorities say bus and ambulance services will qualify for reimbursement.
ODOT is also working on funding shuttles between Lexington and Purcell with multiple routes throughout the day.
The shuttle is available to the public beginning Friday.