FORT WORTH — Motorists can probably count on one hand the number of days before the West Seventh Street bridge will open to traffic after a four-month closure, an official said.Our best estimate is that it could possibly open up as soon as the middle of (the) week, weather permitting, said Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Val Lopez.Construction of the bridge with the 12 signature arches is about a month ahead of schedule. The contractor, Sundt Construction of San Antonio, can earn most of a potential $990,000 bonus by getting the bridge open to traffic by this week.The 100-year-old bridge was closed to traffic June 8, and the original structure was demolished. A set of 12 arches that were fabricated on a nearby vacant lot were moved into place, to support a new deck over the Clear Fork Trinity River near downtown Fort Worth.Although the bridge soon will be open to automobile traffic, motorists can expect workers to remain in the area for several weeks, Lopez said. Landscaping remains, and construction of extra-wide sidewalks on the exterior of the arches remains to be done.The pedestrian/cycling elements of the bridge should be completed by mid-November, he said.But for automobiles, it looks like just a few more pieces of the puzzle remain. On Sunday, the bridge remained cordoned off by orange barricades, but appeared ready to accept traffic - save just a bit of concrete curb work yet to be done, and about 35 yards of pavement overlay that must still be placed on each end of the bridge.An estimated 12,000 vehicles per day use the bridge, and merchants and residents along the fledgling West Seventh corridor have waited patiently for the bridge work to end. Since June, traffic heading to and from downtown has detoured to West Lancaster Avenue, White Settlement Road and other alternate routes.Officials from several civic groups are planning a big bash to celebrate the completion of the new bridge - which will feature recessed lighting and stainless steel webbing.Tentative plans include a weekend of celebrations Nov. 15-16, including a parade across the structure.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson