PURCELL — Oklahoma Transportation Department officials are offering financial incentives as high as $2,500 an hour in hopes of getting the Purcell bridge repaired and reopened to passenger car and foot traffic within 45 days, officials said Wednesday.
The Oklahoma Transportation Commission has scheduled an emergency meeting for 1:30 p.m. Friday to vote on awarding the contract.
Initial repairs would be aimed at getting the bridge reopened to passenger car and foot traffic, said Terri Angier, department spokeswoman. More extensive repair work would then continue with hopes of reopening the bridge to trucks, buses and heavy emergency vehicles within 120 days after repairs begin Friday.
Contractors are being asked to bid against each other both on completion times and costs in a complicated process, Angier said.
Incentives for early completion and disincentives for late completion as high as $2,500 an hour are included in the two phases of the contract, Angier said.
Those are some of the highest incentives ever offered by the agency, which shows the importance of the project, she said.
The repairs are projected to have a base cost of about $5 million, with the potential for several million dollars more in financial incentives for early completion.
State transportation officials ordered the James C. Nance Bridge between Purcell and Lexington closed Jan. 31 after cracks were discovered that created a danger of collapse on the U.S. 77/State Highway 39 bridge.
Closure of the bridge has created a huge inconvenience for residents of the two communities, transforming two-mile trips into 40-mile commutes. About 2,200 people live in Lexington, while Purcell has about 6,000 residents.
To speed up the project, Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency. She directed the Transportation Department to set up a shuttle service between the communities and put repairs on a fast track.
Repairs would normally take about a year if emergency measures weren't taken, Angier said.
The repairs are expected to prolong the life of the bridge by 10 years, until it can be replaced.
The Transportation Commission also will be asked to approve bridge inspection contracts with two highly specialized bridge firms in association with the repair project.