James C. Nance Memorial Bridge

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James C. Nance Memorial Bridge
Nance Bridge.jpg
The Nance Bridge as seen from the Purcell train station.

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 Bridge at Canadian River
James C. Nance Memorial Bridge is located in Oklahoma
James C. Nance Memorial Bridge
James C. Nance Memorial Bridge is located in the US
James C. Nance Memorial Bridge
Location US-77 / SH-39 over the Canadian R, Lexington, Oklahoma
Coordinates 35°0′54″N 97°20′38″W / 35.01500°N 97.34389°W / 35.01500; -97.34389
Area 3.5 acres (1.4 ha)
Built 1938
Architectural style Other, Deck Truss Bridge
NRHP Reference # 03000882[1]
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
Design Deck truss
Total length 1,110.1 metres (3,642 ft)[2]
Opened 1938

The James C. Nance Memorial Bridge is a deck truss 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 newspaper publisher and former member of the Oklahoma Legislature.

The 1938 construction of this bridge, one of the longest in the state, was instrumental in the development of Purcell as a retail and employment hub for the "Heart of Oklahoma" trade area comprising Purcell, Lexington, Washington, Wayne, Payne, Slaughterville, Dibble, Cole, Wanette, Goldsby, Byars, Paoli and Rosedale.[citation needed] Traffic using the bridge allows trade and commerce to freely flow in this retail trade area hub of southern McClain County, southern Cleveland County, Southern Pottawatomie County, and northern area of Garvin County, and eastern portion of Grady county.

Emergency closure[edit]

On January 31, 2014, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation closed the bridge temporarily but indefinitely, until recently discovered major structural damage and deficiencies due to aging and cracking of the truss system can be evaluated and repaired. The bridge may be reopened to lighter vehicles once sufficient initial repairs are made; however, heavier vehicles such as emergency vehicles, school buses and larger trucks will not be allowed to cross unless the bridge can be repaired to full integrity. If the bridge cannot be fully repaired, it will likely have to be rebuilt with costs exceeding $40,000,000.00.

The closure has caused substantial economic disruption to the City of Purcell, as the bridge delivers thousands a vehicles a day from southern Cleveland county and points east to Interstate 35 in Purcell, the major north-south interstate corridor in Oklahoma. Local residents in Lexington and southern Cleveland county can no longer conduct commerce in Purcell, and travelers from points east must still pass through Lexington, but instead turn north for an additional 15-mile journey through rural Cleveland county to the next available access to Interstate 35 on the south side of Norman.[3]

The bridge was reopened to traffic with a load posting on June 13, 2014. A project to construct a new bridge is planned to go to bid in Fiscal Year 2018.[4]

Municipal Water Source[edit]

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 which tap into an aquifer east of Lexington.

The Nance bridge is 1,110.1 meters[2] (3,642 ft) long, making it among the longest in the state.[5]

The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 2003-09-02.[2][1]

See also[edit]


  • Oklahoma Highway Department
  • State of Oklahoma
  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c National Bridge Inventory
  3. ^ "Bridge connecting Lexington to Purcell closed for all drivers", KOKH-TV, January 31, 2014.
  4. ^ ODOT,"Oklahoma Department of Transportation press release", June 13, 2014.
  5. ^ Kinsler, Wes. [1]. Oklahoma Bridges. URL accessed 20 January 2008.