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US-77 James C. Nance Bridge Between Purcell and Lexington

From rendering to reality the Purcell/Lexington bridge with a modern four-lane structure.

History was made Friday 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 James C. Nance Memorial Bridge that links the twin cities, located less than one mile apart, fully opened to traffic with much fanfare on Friday, July 26, the culmination of a major two-year, expedited reconstruction project. Read more here.

Grand Opening

Public invited to celebrate opening of new US-77/SH-39
Purcell-Lexington bridge July 26 with ribbon cutting

The cities of Purcell and Lexington, the Heart of Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will cut the ribbon to officially open to traffic the new US-77/SH-39 Purcell-Lexington bridge. The public will have an opportunity to walk on the bridge prior to the ribbon cutting.

Lexington Mayor David Adams, Purcell Mayor James “Ted” Cox and Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz will speak before the ribbon cutting which reconnects the two communities. They are expected to be joined by former Purcell Mayor Ron Fishburn, who attended the previous bridge opening in 1938 at the age of 5, and will speak about the history of the bridge and its significance to the two communities.

This modern, state-of-the-art bridge provides a safe mode of transportation for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians over the Canadian River and the BNSF railroad and replaces an 80-year-old structurally deficient two-lane bridge that was closed for several months in 2014 after ODOT found cracks in areas of the bridge beams. The department accelerated the necessary replacement project to begin in only about three years from that reopening, significantly expediting a process that normally would take a decade to complete.

This marks substantial completion of a $38 million, two-year project to replace the bridge with a four-lane structure that includes shoulders and a bicycle/pedestrian path as well as incorporating elements of the historic bridge structure known as the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge. While the bridge will be fully opened to traffic July 26, the contractor will continue to complete remaining small items and tasks through August that potentially could necessitate intermittent lane closures.

US-77/SH-39 Purcell-Lexington Bridge Walk & Ribbon Cutting

Friday, July 26, 2019 - 9 a.m.

Event will be near the center of the bridge

Directions: From southbound I-35, take exit 95 in Purcell (a left exit) to southbound US-77/SH-74/N. Green Ave. Turn east (left) onto W. Main St. for on-street parking or continue four blocks east for parking along Canadian Ave. Please note that Canadian Ave. will be closed at the US-77/SH-39/Washington St. intersection the morning of the event for pedestrian safety.

Public Parking will be on Canadian Ave. and Main St. in Purcell. There is additional public parking off N. Second Ave. and the Washington Alley behind the Probation and Parole Department, 118 N. Second Ave. A. Attendees should walk to the intersection of N. Canadian Ave. and US-77/SH-39/Washington St. and enter the bridge on the closed off eastbound lanes. Attendees also may enter the bridge from Lexington and use available public street parking. Event-goers will be directed to the center of the bridge.

NOTE: Due to very hot temperatures, all attendees are strongly encouraged to dress appropriately, wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Event-goers should be prepared for a long walk to event location.

About the Project

  • This project will replace the US-77/SH-39 bridge over the South Canadian River and the BNSF railroad between Purcell and Lexington.
  • The contract for the up to $38 million project that includes possible financial incentives for early completion was awarded to Webber, LLC of The Woodlands, Texas in September 2017.
  • Work began in late 2017 and continues through summer 2019
  • The new bridge will be a modern four-lane structure with shoulders and a bicycle/pedestrian path.
  • The design of the new bridge incorporates aesthetic elements of the historic bridge structure, including reuse of some of the original railing on top of the bridge. Educational displays with information for the public about the old bridge will also be installed.

Impact to Traffic

  • The new structure will be built one half at a time, allowing US-77/SH-39 to remain open to traffic in each direction during construction.
  • The 36 ton load posting was removed on Aug. 22, 2018 following opening of the first half of the new bridge and beginning of demolition of the old structure. There is a wide load restriction in place until the second half of the new bridge is completed.
  • The speed limit is reduced in the work zone.
  • There is no pedestrian access across the bridge until the second half of the new bridge is completed.

Historic photo of the Purcell/Lexington bridge from 1938. Source: Oklahoma Historical Society


  • The bridge was built in 1938 and is rated structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
  • Average daily traffic is about 10,000 vehicles per day.
  • The bridge was closed for emergency repairs from Jan. 31 to June 13, 2014, and was load posted at 36 tons after reopening.
  • The bridge has been inspected at least once every six months since reopening.
  • Materials from the April 2015 public meeting can be found here
  • View the photo album on Facebook
Last Modified on Jun 14, 2023
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