BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The deadline is approaching for a company to earn a $15 million bonus for finishing work early on a major bridge project in Alabama’s largest city.
Texas-based Johnson Brothers Corp. will get the money if it completes work by Jan. 21 on the new Interstate 59/20 overpasses through Birmingham, state officials told news outlets. But the company will have to pay $250,000 a day if the opening is delayed past March 21.
State transportation officials said the work is nearly done, and they’ll work out a schedule for opening the roads after the holidays.
“I have been on the bridge and I’ve driven it and it’s magnificent. We are excited. This will change the landscape of Birmingham forever,” DeJarvis Leonard with the Alabama Department of Transportation told a recent news briefing.
The more than $700 million project is replacing elevated highways built more than 45 years ago to accommodate 80,000 vehicles daily through the heart of downtown. Transportation officials said I-59/20 carried more than twice that number of vehicles before it was closed in January and demolished.
The shutdown, which forced drivers to travel around the city on surface streets or Interstate 459, affected a more than mile-long section of I-59/20 from Red Mountain Expressway to Interstate 65.
The state said it is keeping an eye on safety as contractors complete work that includes smoothing out the driving surface, installing lighting and adding stripes.
“We inspect the bridge as it is being constructed. Then we do what we call an in-service inspection, which is ongoing as we speak,” said Leonard.
Plans call for the area beneath the elevated highway to be used for community spaces including a park and an area for food trucks.