By Jeff Ray

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Drivers in Fort Worth may have noticed some big arches under construction over the last year. They are part of the 7th Street bridge project — an upgrade to the 100-year-old bridge that crosses the Trinity River. That structure, as we know it now, is about 10 months away from retirement.

The arches are being constructed just off the foot of the bridge, along the river’s edge. Crews have completed 12 of the 160-foot, 300-ton arches. The decision was made to build those structures next to the bridge in order to keep traffic moving smoothly as long as possible.

This is something that has never been done before. “This is going to be the world’s first pre-cast network arch bridge,” explained Val Lopez with the Texas Department of Transportation. “It’s a design we came up with here in TxDOT and it’s the first in the world.”

Lanes on the bridge will be reduced while crews install the arches on both sides. Then, this summer, the bridge will be closed entirely for about five months while the 100-year-old bridge decking is replaced.

This is a vital east-west passageway in Fort Worth, connecting downtown to the cultural district. Making the bridge this way — using pre-cast arches built next to the bridge — minimizes the closure time.

The new bridge is expected to cost almost $26 million. It is set to be completed by Thanksgiving.

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