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Continued: Rebuilding bridge will be hard, fast

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 13, 2007 - 11:28 AM

"You'll lose some days to a snowstorm or two," he said. "But for the most part, you'll be clocking the thing full-time. The substructures are so massive that cold temperatures don't affect that."

Nevertheless, French said, there are risks for the contractor.

If the company doesn't meet deadlines it can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars often built into a contract as incentive for early completion.

Still, French said, the challenge of such a job and its "extremely aggressive schedule" is appealing.

"Maybe it's that construction bravado," he said. "But it can be done, sure. You virtually have to double up everything or you burn everybody out to build it. Similarly, the state and other agencies must keep up, too. ... You can't have somebody sitting there saying, 'It can wait until Monday' when it's Friday afternoon. It ain't going to work. Everything has got to keep going."

Myers agrees: "It's just a matter of putting the right team together and really just having the right attitude and the right people."

When a tanker truck crashed and burned on I-80 near Oakland, Calif., in April, melting the steel frame supporting the access ramp above it, Myers went right to work.

The day he was awarded the contract, he ordered steel from Pennsylvania and soon built sections of the new ramp off site. With crews on the job 24 hours a day, the ramp opened in 26 days, half the time expected. Although he bid $876,000 for the job and spent an estimated $2.5 million to build the ramp, his quick work earned a $5 million bonus.

"To do something like that you've got to have your [act] together," he said. "It takes everybody. All your subcontractors and suppliers and all that. You have to have the same goal and say, 'Let's show 'em how damn fast we can do this job.' If you don't have that attitude, you're not going to get it done."

Staff writer Bill McAuliffe contributed to this report. • 612-673-4425

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