The contractor rebuilding the West Seventh Street bridge can earn a bonus of nearly $1 million for getting the structure re-opened to traffic in less than 150 days.And beginning Friday night, thousands of inconvenienced Fort Worth drivers likely will be rooting for them to earn all that cash.Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, the bridge connecting Fort Worth's popular West Side with downtown will be closed, so crews can begin demolishing the century-old structure.The contractor, Sundt Construction Inc. of San Antonio, has pledged to get the bridge open within 150 days - which should put the completion deadline at around 8 p.m. Nov. 4.But Sundt officials have plenty of incentive to get the work done early.For every day Sundt can deliver the project ahead of that schedule, the company will be paid a $33,000 bonus, according to Sundt's contract with the Texas Department of Transportation. The bonus offer is good for up to 30 days, meaning Sundt can make up to $990,000, transportation department spokesman Val Lopez said.“I think everyone is rooting for them to do a good job, and get it done as quickly as possible,” Lopez said.Traffic will be detoured to West Lancaster Avenue during the closure. White Settlement Road is also an alternate route.Motorists accustomed to using the bridge to get to and from downtown Fort Worth can expect delays of several minutes each way - for the next four to five months.With the closure of the bridge, the project is entering its most intensive phase.Before the contract was inked several years ago, state and city officials met frequently with area business owners to map out a plan that minimized the amount of time traffic would be disrupted during the project. Ultimately, they chose to close the bridge all at once, on the condition that the work could be substantially completed after the city's annual Mayfest celebration but before the start of the bustling Christmas shopping season.So if all goes well, trick-or-treaters will be able to walk across the new bridge on Halloween night. Boo!
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson