Four months of detours for TCU students and Fort Worth motorists are over. The West 7th Street Bridge opened Wednesday evening, nearly a month ahead of schedule.
The completion of the bridge marks the opening of the world’s first precast network arch bridge, said Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) spokesman Val Lopez.
Precast means the arches of the bridge were constructed at an off-site location beginning in January 2012, Lopez said.
“By doing that, we minimized impact to traffic by not coming on site until May [of 2013],” he said.
When the bridge closed for installation of the arches and bridge deck, TxDOT promised the closure would be 150 days or about five months.
To keep that promise, the contractor gave an incentive, Lopez said.
An incentive of approximately $33,000 for each day ahead of schedule, Lopez said. For every day over 150 days, there is a penalty of that same amount, he said.
Because crews finished a month earlier than expected, the contractor is collecting a bonus of $1 million.
Fort Worth city officials, TxDOT and Sundt Construction, Inc. celebrated the opening of the $25 million bridge with a “first drive” parade.
Also celebrating were some TCU students. Junior criminal justice and Spanish double major Caroline Collins said she is excited to be able to use the bridge again as a more convenient way to get downtown.
“I’m really happy it’s open because I know a lot of TCU students hang out around West 7th and Montgomery Plaza,” Collins said. “And going into downtown, there’s a lot of awesome restaurants and things that people want to go to, and it’s not very fun when you have to take the long way around.”
Matt Greer, a senior psychology major, said it was frustrating to use the Lancaster Street detour to get from downtown Fort Worth to I-35.
“It’s nice to have the West 7th bridge open again,” he said. “It makes it easier to get back in to downtown.”
Although the bridge opened to traffic on Wednesday, pedestrian walkways and lighting will not be finished until the original completion date in November, according to the press release from Streams and Valleys, a non-profit organization “committed to saving, sharing and celebrating the Trinity River.”
A lighting ceremony, hosted by Mayor Price, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 15. The following day, at 10 a.m. Nov. 16, there will be a West 7th Street festival, parade and dedication.