NORMAN — Beginning Monday, the free shuttle between Purcell and Lexington will add two new times to its weekday schedule. There will be 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. departure times added to both locations, with arrival times at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.
Since beginning the daily trips Feb. 7, the shuttles have had 2,085 riders between the two communities. That averages to about 61 riders per day.
Due to the continued discovery of cracks on the US-77/SH-39 bridge between Purcell and Lexington, Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials are unable to open the bridge to any traffic until all repairs can be made.
Since awarding the contract, what were 10 cracked areas has consistently grown to more than 40 areas on the bridge. The contract includes a 45-day deadline to repair 10 locations that would have opened the bridge to light vehicles and a 120-day deadline to repair all 264 areas that were weakened due to welding.
The contractor could earn an incentive of $2,500 for every hour those 10 areas were fixed under the 45-day deadline and $1,500 for every hour the rest of the 264 areas are fixed under the 120-day deadline June 14. The department is contractually obligated to pay incentives based on those original 10 locations.
Because the bridge will not open early to light vehicles, the contractor can work in a more logical, orderly fashion, which is expected to speed up the repair process. It is unknown how quickly the bridge will open within the 120-day deadline, however the department is optimistic that the contractor will take advantage of the incentives for early completion.
ODOT officials said the department and the contractor are working around the clock to open bridge as quickly and as safely as possible.
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