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U.S. Highway 231 construction project moving faster than expected

On Friday, officials will open bids for construction of two 100-foot bridges, another step forward in this massive development.

Posted: May 7, 2020 9:40 PM
Updated: May 7, 2020 10:41 PM

The Alabama Department of Transportation says it expects to finish the bridge construction project on U.S. Highway 231 faster than initially expected. 

Officials say they initially had a conservative timeline and no incentives for speed. The coronavirus has not had a negative impact on the project.

In February, the heavily traveled road was closed after heavy rains led to major cracks. On Friday, officials will open bids for construction of two 100-foot bridges, another step forward in this massive development.

"This disaster that has led to this project, and therefore the project to address it are both unprecedented. So it's really difficult for me to compare it to anything in my experience at ALDOT," Seth Burkett, with the Alabama Department of Transportation, said. 

Unprecedented. It's a word that can describe the February landslide causing Highway 231's problems, and the current way of life due to the coronavirus.

For the construction project, the virus hasn't forced much of a change for workers.

"On most of our construction projects, it has not had a great impact, this project, so far the work involves a lot of people working in machinery and the open air, there's sufficient room for them to stay mostly social distanced as they need to," Burkett. 

The second phase of the project is ready to start in June, two bridges will be built, crossing the unstable area where a road once stood. The area is still dangerous, and Burkett says the coronavirus keeping people off the roads, has been helpful.

He says it allows workers to stay safer at the job site, with fewer drivers passing by, and they can get to the site quickly with no traffic.

"It actually has been something that kind of allowed us to work more freely with this project, with reduction in traffic, the detour route has become much less of a concern, traffic is much lower," Burkett said.

The contractor selected for the bridge construction will have a target date to be finished by December 2nd. The speediness has to do with monetary incentives. If they hit the target date, the contractor can make around 2.5 million dollars in incentives.

But if they don't, the contractor will be fined an undisclosed amount. Burkett expects the project to move along fast.

"Anticipate this project being wrapped up in a much shorter time frame than what we originally discussed with the public," Burkett, said. 

Bids for the bridge construction will open Friday, and WAAY31 is told a contractor is also expected to be selected as well.

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