New Year Means More Bridge Work in Fort Worth

West Seventh Street bridge coming along as crews continue work off site

You might call 2013 the year of the bridge in Fort Worth.

As many as four major roadways into and out of downtown could see major bridge work start or finish this year.

The work includes nine arches that sit just off West Seventh Street. The new West Seventh Street bridge will have a total of 12 arches when it is complete -- six on each side.

"The community really wanted a cool structure to replace it (the existing bridge), and this design is going to fulfill that," said Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jodi Hodges.

The structure replaces a century-old bridge that was modified in 1954.

Eight of the arches sit upright. One remains on its side after being cast in concrete, and a 10th is on its way to being fabricated.

The arches will eventually be hauled by truck to about a block and a half to the southeast from the off-site location. The prefabrication process for the $25.9 million project is the first of its kind and was specifically designed for this project in an effort to minimize the effects on drivers, businesses and residents.

"It's the world's first precast network arch bridge, and it's going to be the city's newest signature bridge," Hodges said.

West Seventh Avenue isn't the only major downtown artery that will see bridge work this year.

The three bridges for the Trinity Uptown will see work start this year. And the Henderson Street bridge could see the start of work in the next month to six months.

In the near term, the focus is on the West Seventh Street bridge, where developers and business owners say they know there will be effects on business.

Parr, who owns the Subway franchise in the Montgomery Plaza shopping center, has owned the Subway in the Cultural District since 1988. He said that while his business will be affected with the road closures and lane reductions, the job of minimizing those effects will make a huge difference.

"We've taken what could have been a devastating situation and, between cooperation of the city government, our business groups, TxDOT, I honestly believe we're going to have the best of the possible outcomes," Parr said.

Business owners said they see the short-term headaches as a long-term benefit.

"We're looking at a great amenity brought to the west side that will stitch West Seventh and the west side to downtown," said Kirk Williams of Cypress Equities.

And while drivers will see construction for about six months, it could be worse because these types of projects typically take up to two years.

The West Seventh bridge won't have closures until after the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo wraps up. Even then, closures may not happen until the spring. Regardless of when the lane reduction and closures begin, officials say the bridge will be open by Thanksgiving.

The new version of the bridge will be 981 feet long and 88 feet wide. The arches will stand 20 feet above the roadway.

There will still only be four lanes of traffic, but a new 10-foot pedestrian and cycling path will be added and will be separated from vehicle traffic by the arches.

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