MCCLAIN COUNTY, Okla. – Friday was a huge day for residents of Purcell and Lexington.
Back in 2014, the bridge between the two towns closed, making a typically five to ten-minute drive now 45 minutes long.
Since then, residents have dealt with years of construction, but now crews with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has formally opened all lanes of a new bridge.
Officials say five years of headaches ended with the cut of a ribbon.
The first James C. Nance bridge connecting Purcell and Lexington was built in 1938. It was deemed unsafe in 2014 and closed for several months, leaving drivers with a 45-minute detour.
In the five years leading up to this moment, residents have driven on a patched up version of the old bridge, seen its demolition and driven in a select few lanes of the new one.
Now, there’s a sigh of relief with all lanes open.
“We are one community and not just two,” said Purcell Mayor Ted Cox. “We share a lot more things than just a telephone prefix with Lexington.”
ODOT says a project like this typically takes a decade of planning, design and construction. They fast-tracked this one, getting it done in half the time.
The project cost $38 million.