ODOT begins fix on James Nance bridge, expects reopening in 45 days

      Inspectors look at the underside of the James Nance bridge in an undated photo. (ODOT photo)

      The Oklahoma Department of Transportation awarded a contract Friday that would get repairs underway on the damaged James Nance Bridge.

      ODOT commissioners awarded the base bid of $10.8 million to Manhattan Road and Bridge Company.

      Manhattan now has 45 days to open the bridge to light car and pickup traffic, 120 days to reopen the bridge to all traffic, and 150 days to complete all the work.

      The state will pay Manhattan $2,500 an hour for every hour the project is finished ahead of schedule.

      "We do have a very aggressive timeline on this bridge. It's going to be a challenge for them. We hope they earn a bonus, but they're going to have to get after it quick and hard," said ODOT's chief engineer Casey Shell.

      The bridge was closed on February 3rd after inspectors found major cracking on the underside of the bridge. That damage could cause the bridge to collapse on itself, ODOT officials said.

      The process has been significantly sped up after Governor Mary Fallin issued an emergency declaration.

      The repair process will fix 264 damaged locations on the bridge, ODOT said. It also includes extra treatments to other areas of the bridge. The goal is to extend the bridge's life another 10 years before a new bridge can be built.

      ODOT says it is in the process of building a new bridge, but says that will take at least 10 years and $40 million dollars.

      Commissioners also awarded a contract to inspectors to continually monitor the bridge. Unlike other inspections, this one will be continuous. After an inspector finishes a complete look at the bridge, they will go back and do it again.

      The James Nance bridge was built in 1938.