I-40 bridge construction reaches peak;
detour user costs defined;
35 of 57 construction days pass
July 17, 2002
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation confirmed numbers this week of the costs Oklahomans are enduring by not having I-40 operational.
ODOT Traffic engineers confirm the grand total user cost is nearly $430,000 per day the bridge is not open. The numbers, which are much higher than earlier estimates, are derived from both local and through traffic. As of July 17, taxpayers have been burdened with approximately $22 million in user costs since the day of the impact and that number will grow daily until the bridge is open.
The user cost continues to increase because of operational changes in the detours.
ODOT has counted an average of 4,395 trucks and 12,546 other vehicles using the detours everyday in addition to local traffic.
User costs are calculated through a series of detailed formulas by ODOT Traffic engineering experts. Cost factors in the study include the amount of traffic per detour, speed limit, length of detour, time traveled, delay time, and road user costs such as extra gas, extra wear on tires, etc.
“In early stages of this operation we roughly estimated about half this cost,” ODOT Director Gary Ridley said. “These numbers exceed what we had expected and that is why we have made it our top priority to get this bridge back open.
“The data collected proves the economic impact to our state and how vital the transportation infrastructure is to the state’s economy,” he added.
The costs of the upkeep of the detours are also escalating. ODOT has spent nearly $8.6 million in projects to repair the detour highways, each having increased traffic counts since the incident. These costs could rise even higher the longer diverted traffic uses the detours. Over 80 percent of the detour projects have been worked on in some way, however the work is ongoing.
An example of the manpower spent repairing the detours, this past Monday night alone there were at least 100 workers with three different contractors and other ODOT employees repairing the detours.
The user cost data and detour costs are exactly why ODOT placed incentive / disincentive to Gilbert Central Construction in the amount of $144,000 per day ($6,000 per hour) the bridge is open before the end of the contract end-date. This bonus and disincentive is to instigate rapid progress to open back this artery, which is vital for the local and national economy, as soon as humanly possible. The bonus amount is far less than the user cost accumulating every day.
“The interstate is such an integral part of America’s backbone,” Ridley added.
Today, at the peak of construction, Gilbert Central executives from Atlanta and Ft. Worth, Texas and ODOT officials met today to witness the progress of the bridge. Executives also wanted to personally see the expedient progress and efforts by their personnel and department employees at its peak.
Contractors on-site have confirmed to the department that they are running just a bit ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, Gilbert Central executives are pleased with their progress.
“We are tracking well against the estimated schedule,” said Gilbert Central Director Scott Cassels.
“Our goal is to bring the project to a close ahead of schedule,” he added.
This the 36th day of the contract, construction of all three piers is complete and concrete beams are spanning from the west abutment all the way to the east side. Work on the connection of the new bridge to the existing bridge is underway while other crews pour concrete forming the new bridge deck.
Work continues on the detours as most of the recent overlays have been completed. Bridge engineers continue to inspect the detour bridges.
ODOT encourages citizens to continue visiting www.okladot.state.ok.us or calling 405/521-6002 for the most up-to-date information, pictures and graphics.