Fallin declared the emergency Friday while touring the James. C. Nance Bridge over the Canadian River. The bridge was closed last week after the discovery of several cracks in the bridge's truss beams. Officials declared the bridge unsafe and shut it down.
“This bridge is a safety hazard and is at risk of collapse,” Fallin said in a statement. “Keeping it open would have threatened lives. It had to close. Unfortunately, that has created an economic hardship, not to mention a severe inconvenience, for the people of Lexington and Purcell."
The declaration allows for a faster bidding and construction process on the bridge. Fallin says that repairs that could take up to a year could be done in months instead.
The declaration also calls for reimbursements to Lexington, Purcell, and Cleveland and McClain counties. The governor's office says the cities and counties can each receive up to $100,000 in state funds to cover expenses incurred during the closure. Both ambulance and bus services would qualify.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is also paying for shuttles between the two towns, with multiple runs throughout the day.
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