Fort Worth merchants and motorists welcome completion of bridge project

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on October 7, 2013 at 11:20 PM

West 7th Street Bridge

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FORT WORTH — Construction crews worked Monday afternoon smoothing out concrete, putting in lights, and pouring asphalt at the project that will become one of Fort Worth’s landmarks — the West 7th Street Bridge.

Progress on the Trinity River span is ahead of schedule.

"The hope is that we will be able to open the West 7th Street bridge this week," said Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Val Lopez.

Drivers could be crossing the bridge by the end of the week... or even sooner.

Motorists can't wait, because that means four months of detours are coming to an end.

"So ready for it to re-open,” said Jennifer Ledbetter. “We've been going all the way around, different ways, discovering new places, but it will just be nice to be able to go straight downtown.”

Nearly every business along 7th Street is looking forward to the project's completion.

“I've seen the whole thing from start to finish,” said Fort Worth Running Co. owner Jim Newsom. “I’m glad to be on 7th Street.”

Newsom said the bridge shutdown and work since June affected the flow of customers at his store and at other businesses nearby.

One restaurant didn't survive the detour.

“It's been tough on some of them, but I'm glad to get it open,” Newsom said. “It will be a huge boom to this area.”

TxDOT promised retailers and the city that the work would take no more than five months, or 150 days. The agency offered the contractor on the project an incentive.

“For each day, that the bridge is open early, it's a bonus of approximately $33,000,” Lopez said. “If the contractor goes over the 150-day period, there is a penalty for each and every day, and there's no cap on it.”

The contractor, Sundt Construction, is delivering on its promise, finishing a month early. It's now set to collect a bonus of nearly $1 million.

“The incentive is a very good use of taxpayer money,” Lopez said. “We usually use this on very high profile jobs that have a tremendous amount of traffic.”

It's that traffic business owners have been missing. They see the new bridge as a sign of opportunity and growth.

Newsom is getting ready to cash in this weekend by offering a 25 percent-off sale.

When the bridge does open to traffic, construction crews will still be working on it, finishing the sidewalks near the arches and the landscaping.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bridge is scheduled for next month.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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