First-of-their-kind Seventh Street Bridge arches nearly finished



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Posted on January 31, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 6:44 PM

FORT WORTH -- It won't be long now until massive concrete arches form a new gateway linking downtown Fort Worth to the cultural district.

Workers will pour the last of 12 arches for a new Seventh Street bridge next week by laying out the frame. The frame will then be laced with steel cable before it is filled with concrete, like a giant Jell-O mold.

But nothing quite like this has ever been attempted before.

"This is a pre-cast, network arch bridge," said Val Lopez, a spokesperson from the Texas Department of Transportation. "The first one in the world."

The design is even more special, because the government saved taxpayers a bundle by not paying an outside designer, he said. Instead, an in-house TxDOT engineer dreamed it up or doodled it up.

"Scribbled it on napkins, legal pads," Lopez said.

The $26-million project has undergone 10 years of tweaking.

"This is something we're quite proud of," Lopez said, standing amid the upright arches in a lot off West Seventh. "We did it in-house, designed it in-house. It's going to be beautiful."

Each arch is 24 feet tall, more than 50 yards long, and weighs 300 tons. There will be six on each side, with illuminated criss-crossing steel cables, and pedestrian walkways outside the arches.

In late spring, crews will slowly move the huge forms to the bridge site with a vehicle like the one that moved the space shuttle to the launch pad. After the arches are installed, workers will build a new bridge deck.

The goal is to keep the Seventh Street bridge closed for no more than 150 days, and have it open in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.