Fallin said Thursday the denial was based on the fact that the January 31 bridge closure does not meet the definition of a disaster declaration.
“The bridge’s closure has caused economic hardships to many businesses in Lexington and Purcell, with some reporting a 30 to 50 percent decline in sales as a result of the bridge being closed,” Fallin said in a statement.
The governor requested the declaration for Cleveland and McClain counties on April 7. Approval would have allowed business owners in McClain and Cleveland counties to apply for federally subsidized loans.
Fallin says she spoke with SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.
“Unfortunately, she said she was just restricted by federal law to help us,” Fallin said. “She wanted to. She was very sympathetic.”
The closure has resulted in a 45-minute one-way trip between Lexington and Purcell. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s shuttle service for residents has made over 5,000 trips between the two towns. The bridge scheduled to reopen June 14.
Businesses have been adversely impacted by the bridge closure, which in turn had resulted in loss of sales tax revenue.
ODOT said Thursday pleasant weather and on-time delivery of supplies means crews are still on pace to meet the repair deadline.
The contractor will receive a $1,500 per hour incentive to complete the repairs ahead of schedule.
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