Oklahoma I-40 bridge nears completion

| Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Reconstruction of the I-40 bridge in Webbers Falls, OK, is nearing completion and ahead of schedule. Since construction began in early June, road crews have worked non-stop.

Gary Ridley, director for Oklahoma's transportation department, said the rebuilding of the bridge is five to six days ahead of schedule and vehicles are expected to begin crossing the bridge by the first week of August.

The contractor hired to rebuild the bridge reportedly will receive a bonus of about $720,000 to $864,000 if workers beat the deadline by the time frame expected. The speed of the repair work will not affect the safety of the bridge, assured Ridley.

A 580-foot section of the bridge collapsed into the river May 26 when a barge rammed the structure. Fourteen people died when their vehicles plunged into the Arkansas River.

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