PURCELL Okla. --- The first half of the Purcell/ Lexington Bridge is up and running for drivers in McClain and Cleveland counties.
The $38 million project began in late 2017, but drivers were fed up with the detours during the construction period.
“It hasn't been too good. I certainly wouldn't give it an A,” said Lottie Appleman-Maine, a Lexington resident.
Appleman-Maine says for years, the bridge has been a problem and she’s glad it will finally get fixed.
“If I wanted to do something in Purcell, I had to drive to Norman, to Purcell, back to Norman and then back,” said Appleman-Maine.
Just the day before, she said she was stuck on the Lexington/ Purcell Bridge for quite some time, and she’s not alone.
“It took what would have been a two or three-minute drive and made it a 45 to 50-minute drive,” said Purcell Mayor Ted Cox.
In 2014, the bridge was closed for a time after large cracks were found in the support beams. Now, a portion of the new bridge alongside the old one is finally opened to drivers.
“It's a vital bridge to both communities it serves for rivalries and football games, the battle for the bridge between the two schools; and it's also a huge deal for businesses on both sides,” said Cox.
The old bridge, which dates back to 1938, will eventually be torn down.
“What was a two lane bridge will become a four lane bridge, that's slated to be done next summer,” said Cox.
Cox said it has been months in the making for people in the neighboring towns to cross the road without headache.
“A lot of users of the bridge have been very anxious about crossing that bridge,” Cox said.
Average daily traffic is about 10,000 vehicles per day. The bridge was closed for emergency repairs from Jan. 31 to June 13, 2014, and has been load posted at 36 tons since reopening.