Nearly six years after the 80-year old bridge linking the cities of Purcell and Lexington at the Canadian river became endangered, the state prepares to dedicate a new replacement.
Ceremonies will be held Friday at the $38 million US-77/SH39 bridge that is four lanes and will officially be opened to traffic. They come after a bridge repair project in 2014 resulted in weakening the bridge and created a transportation crisis.
What had been a trip of only a few minutes across the old bridge ended up by a 45-minute trip for those who wanted to go from one city to the other. The repairs that were meant to improve the old bridge prompted then gov. Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency for the two cities.
An estimated 10,000 drivers used the bridge daily so the state transportation department took extraordinary steps to properly repair the aging bridge and design a new one.
The old bridge was torn down in the past year as two lanes of the new bridge were opened to traffic. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. featuring State Transportation Director Tim Gatz as well as Lexington Mayor David Adams and Purcell Mayor James Cox.