“The possibility of any loss of life is devastating,” she said, referring to the collapse of a similar bridge in Minnesota that took 13 lives and injured 145 persons in 2007. “We don’t ever want a disaster like that to happen.”
ODOT Chief Engineer Casey Shell said private contractors will bid on the fast-track repair project next week. A $2,500 per hour completion bonus or penalty will be included as an incentive to get the project done quickly.
Shell said that 22 potential cracks were discovered in the manganese alloy structure during an inspection that followed a $1.2 million repair project. Those cracks formed near welds that were part of a previous rehabilitation project.
He said the obsolete metal was not conducive to welding and that they anticipate it will cost $3 million to repair the bridge. Officials said they do not believe they will need additional appropriations to cover the repairs.
In the meantime, the State Department of Transportation will begin operating free shuttle services between Lexington and Purcell. The buses will run between a lot at the Flex Works parking lot at 925 S. Green Avenue in Purcell and the First Baptist Church, 900 E. Broadway, in Lexington. Daily schedules are being developed.
Additionally, the Governor’s declaration allows Cleveland and McClain counties, as well as the town of Lexington and the city of Purcell, to be reimbursed $100,000 each for their extra expenses.
Purcell Mayor David Lee said he is beginning to hear concerns about customers moving their business out of Purcell. He has cautioned the city manager about potential revenue shortfalls due to the loss of sales tax revenue.
“We appreciate all that ODOT is doing but it’s going to be a burden on us for some time,” Green said.