The west side of downtown Fort Worth is starting to transform with the first of 12 arches in place of the new West Seventh Street bridge.
On Friday, the first pre-cast arch was put into place after the bridge closed to traffic Wednesday night.
The skyline over the Trinity River now boasts the first of 12 new additions. Each arch weighs 300 tons and measures 24 feet tall and 163 feet long arch. Those additions will make up the new bridge that will replace the century old one by Thanksgiving.
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"This is one of the more interesting ones," said retired architect and Orlando, Fla. resident Tom Davis. Davis and friend Tom Mills were at the site at 7:30 a.m. to watch the arch arrive and go in around 1:15 p.m.
"Being an architect, a retired architect, any structural innovations are very attractive," said Tom Mills, an Arlington resident.
It was a slow and steady sight that Mills, Davis and a few dozen others took in throughout the day. Some watched from a grassy knoll along West Seventh and Fournier Street, while others watched from office buildings nearby.
Watching from the top level of the Cash America building's parking lot, were Texas Department of Transportation information officers and representatives from Sundt Construction.
"We've got it planned down to the day and the hour in some cases," said John Carlson, Sundt's Texas district manager.
Sundt, TXDOT and the city of Fort Worth knew that Friday would be the day the first arch would go into place, but they didn't expect the placement to take up so much time. This bridge is the first ever built like this and crews wanted to take their time installing the arch and will with all the ones that follow.
"This project involves new and novel ideas and new processes, so the transportation of this particular arch is going to be done thoughtfully, carefully and methodically," said Val Lopez, TXDOT spokesperson.
After the methodical move, with remote controlled dollies moving the arch across the old brige, two cranes were used to hoist the arch into its permanent home. One crane had to be positioned on top of West 7th Street to secure this arch and the second one to be installed on Saturday. But the remaining 10 arches have more room to maneuver in the river bed and that is why the road will re-open early next week.
"Next month we will be doing it at night, it will be closed at night," Lopez said.
From mid-June to mid-July the bridge will be closed for an extended period while the new bridge deck is installed. The bridge will re-open by Thanksgiving. The contractor has a financial incentive to complete construction within 150 days.
And for folks watching it all come together, that means six more months to take in the city's new signature bridge.
"This is going to make a very interesting album of photographs," said Tom Mills.
The second arch should be installed on Saturday, weather permitting.