- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Missouri company selected to replace a central Arkansas bridge said a six-month closure is tentatively set to begin in May 2016.

Last month, Massman Construction Company of Kansas City, Missouri, won the single largest contract ever awarded by the Highway Commission to work on the Broadway Bridge. It crosses the Arkansas River and connects downtown North Little Rock with downtown Little Rock.

According to the contractor’s preliminary schedule for the $98.4 million project, the new bridge is set to open in late November 2016.

The company’s vice president, Paul Scharmer, spoke Monday at the project’s pre-construction conference to state highway engineers, subcontractors and utility representatives, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1rS0zay ) reported.

“We’re confident we can do it in six months, hopefully better,” he said, raising the possibility that the new bridge could open before it’s expected to.

Provisions in the contract contain incentives for Massman Construction to finish work as quickly as possible, Scharmer said.

Every day the Broadway Bridge is closed to traffic past the six-month deadline, the company will see a decrease of $80,000 daily in payment. But the company can earn extra cash if it finishes building the new bridge early. Massman Construction can receive $80,000 for every day it comes in under the six-month time frame.

In the 20 months leading up to the demolition of the existing bridge, Scharmer said that crews will mostly be working underneath it.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said the 91-year-old Broadway Bridge is safe, but has become expensive to maintain.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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