FORT WORTH -- Construction of the new West Seventh Street bridge near downtown Fort Worth will begin early next year. The project will last until fall 2012, but motorists won't have to worry about many lane closures for the first year, officials said.
However, there will be a period of up to 150 days in mid-2012 when the bridge is completely closed, according to a $22.7 million contract approved Thursday by the Texas Transportation Commission.
The contract offers lots of incentives for workers to minimize the headache on motorists, and to get the project completed before the 2012 Christmas shopping season, commissioner Bill Meadows of Fort Worth said.
"It's a contract that has lots of incentives to discourage long delays," he said.
Construction of the signature bridge, which links downtown Fort Worth to the city's cultural district on its west side, will be handled by Tradeco Infrastructura Inc. of Houston. The contractor will get started in early 2011 and complete the project in fall 2012, Texas Department of Transportation officials said.
The long-awaited project includes replacing an aging, decaying bridge that was originally built in 1913, and extended in 1953 when the Trinity River was re-channelized.
The signature design will include six arch spans across the river, four main lanes and 10-foot-wide sidewalks for enhanced pedestrian access.
“The current bridge used to connect downtown to car dealerships and department stores. Today, a renaissance is under way," Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said. "Seventh Street is about both residential and commercial development. It’s a vibrant, pedestrian friendly atmosphere. The new bridge matches that character."
The contractor will build 12 precast arches -- two per span -- off-site, to minimize traffic disruptions, transportation department spokesman Val Lopez said.
Motorists won't have to worry about many lane closures in 2011, he said.
In spring 2012, the bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction, Lopez said. Then during the summer, the bridge will be full closed for no more than 150 days, according to the contract -- and during that time the old bridge will be removed and the new deck will be put in place.
-- Gordon Dickson