Senator promises federal aid for I-40 bridge repairs

| 6/13/2002

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe promised Monday that the federal government will provide funding necessary to rebuild the I-40 bridge in Webbers Falls, OK

The state Transportation Department estimates bridge repairs will cost $15 million.

The Federal Highway Administration already has committed $3 million to Oklahoma, to be used for federal emergency relief funds. The U.S. Senate passed a supplemental appropriation Friday to provide $12 million to repair the bridge that was struck by a barge May 26. The bill must still pass the House.

Inhofe told news reporters the $12 million is contained in a $31.5 billion anti-terrorism bill that will need President Bush's signature. Even if the president vetoes the bill, Inhofe said the bridge-repair money will get through in some other bill.

ODOT Director Gary Ridley said the bridge is expected to reopen in late August or early September. Initial agency estimates put the project's completion date at six months.

The bridge reconstruction was scheduled to begin last night. The contractor reportedly will receive $6,000 extra for every hour it beats the contract schedule. If it runs over, the company will be penalized $6,000 per hour past the deadline.