Highway officials award contract for new Purcell-Lexington bridge

The James Nance Bridge connecting Lexington and Purcell. (KOKH/FILE)

(AP) -- The Oklahoma Transportation Commission has awarded a $36 million contract to replace an aging bridge linking Purcell and Lexington that had been shut down for several months in 2014.

Officials say half of the new bridge will be built alongside the existing structure. Then, the old bridge will be removed to make room for the new, four-lane bridge crossing the South Canadian River.

The existing bridge was shut down for more than four months in 2014 for emergency repairs after 10 cracks were discovered. That shutdown turned what's normally a 5-minute drive between Purcell and Lexington into a 45-minute trip.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says construction is expected to last two years. The contract awarded Tuesday includes $2 million in possible financial incentives if the project is finished early.

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