Oklahoma cities reeling from sudden bridge closure

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PURCELL, Okla. (AP) — Two small Oklahoma towns are suffering through an economic downturn because the bridge that linked them for 76 years is closed until summer.

Businesses in Purcell rely on customers from neighboring Lexington for a large part of their business. The towns are less than a mile apart, but the detour across the South Canadian River is at least a 45-minute drive.

Oklahoma transportation officials closed the bridge Jan. 31 after finding 10 cracks. The span was slated to re-open by Easter, but more problems popped up during construction and now it could be June before traffic resumes.

The bridge is one of 414 Oklahoma bridges The Associated Press cited last year in a review of spans that were both structurally deficient and "fracture-critical."

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