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James C. Nance Memorial Bridge
Nance Bridge.jpg
US 77 James C. Nance Bridge, a deck truss 2-lane bridge built circa 1938 as seen from the Purcell train station prior to 2019 rebuild as 4 lane concrete pier bridge.
Coordinates 35°0′51″N 97°21′10″W / 35.01417°N 97.35278°W / 35.01417; -97.35278Coordinates: 35°0′51″N 97°21′10″W / 35.01417°N 97.35278°W / 35.01417; -97.35278
US Highway 77 James C. Nance Memorial Bridge at Canadian River
Location US-77 / SH-39 over the Canadian R, Lexington, Oklahoma
Area 3.5 acres (1.4 ha)
Built 1938, rebuilt 2019
Built by Guy H. James
Architectural style Deck Truss Bridge 1938; Concrete Pier Bridge 2019
NRHP reference No. 03000882
Added to NRHP September 2, 2003
Carries 2 lanes of US-77 / SH-39
Crosses Canadian River
Locale Purcell-Lexington, Oklahoma
Maintained by Oklahoma Department of Transportation
ID number 06593
Characteristics
Design Deck truss 1938; Concrete Pier 2019
Total length 1,110.1 metres (3,642 ft)
History
Opened 1938, rebuilt 2019

The US 77 James C. Nance Memorial Bridge connecting Purcell and Lexingtonwas originally built as a circa 1938 deck truss two-lane bridge and in 2019 rebuilt as a concrete pier four-lane bridge crossing the Canadian River between Purcell and Lexington, Oklahoma. The bridge carries U.S. Route 77 (US-77) and Oklahoma State Highway 39 (SH-39) from McClain County to Cleveland County. The bridge is named for James C. Nance, longtime community newspaper chain publisher and Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate and member of U.S Uniform Law Commission.

The Nance bridge allows travel time from Purcell (west side of the Canadian river) to Lexingon (East side of the river) to be only 3 minutes by car, according to google maps. When the bridge was closed (Emergency Closure, below), the same trip was 43 minutes when re-routed North to the nearest bridge, or 1 hour and 4 minutes when re-routed Southeast to the nearest bridge. The Nance bridge features a scenic pedestrian walkway with sweeping views of the South Canadian River valley.

The 1938 construction of this bridge enabled communities from West and Southwest (Byars, Cole, Dibble, Paoli, Pauls Valley, Purcell, Rosedale, and Wayne) side of the river to reach the communities on the East side of the river (Lexington, Slaughterville, and Wanette). Traffic using the bridge allows trade and commerce to freely flow in this retail trade area of southern McClain County, southern Cleveland County, Southern Pottawatomie County, and northern area of Garvin County, and eastern portion of Grady county. The 2019 rebuilt bridge features the same design elements with concrete post and original circa 1938 design wrought iron railings.

Municipal Water Source

In 1982, the James C. Nance bridge was structurally reinforced and a large elevated pipeline was attached underneath to carry the bulk of Purcell's water supply which comes from deep water wells that tap into an aquifer east of Lexington. The pipeline was later bored under the river during bridge reconstruction

2019 Grand Opening

In 2019, the US 77 Purcell/Lexington James C. Nance bridge was re-opened by Oklahoma Department of Transportation According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, "History was made Friday July 26, 2019 in Purcell and Lexington, just as it was more than 80 years ago when the two cities celebrated the grand opening of a new bridge connecting their communities. The new US 77 Purcell/Lexington James C. Nance Bridge that links the cities, located less than one mile apart, fully opened to traffic with much fanfare on Friday, July 26, 2019, the culmination of a major two-year, expedited reconstruction project. The 2 lane state owned bridge built in 1938 was the first bridge in the area to be on the list of state highways in Oklahoma and installed at the site by Oklahoma Department of Transportation and replaced a bridge in nearby vicinity within several blocks north which was a 1 lane privately owned toll bridge built in 1911, which in turn had replaced a wooden constructed 1 lane Cleveland County bridge over the river, according to historic records.

2017-2019 Reconstruction

The two year project to rebuild the bridge in 2 sections used 20,000 Cubic Yards of Concrete, 6 million pounds of rebar and is 3,726 feet long taking 325,000 man hours to build at a cost $38 million. The project met with numerous challenges including inclement weather and local protected wildlife living on or under the historical bridge and delayed work. Despite the challenges, the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge project was finished 5 months early.

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