Oklahoma is wasting little time in trying to restore its barge-battered Interstate 40 bridge over the Arkansas River, where 20,000 vehicles have been rerouted to a crossing 20 miles away. Demolition continued as state officials unveiled more details of the planned repair contract.

A dangling 380-ton bridge section should be completely gone by July 12, says Bruce Taylor, Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation chief engineer. Demolition contractor Jensen Construction Co., Des Moines, is busy removing the 25-ft-long, 64-ft-wide chunk.

Jensen is working under a cost-plus contract for the section and $850,000 for the remaining demolition. Terms call for $50,000-a-day penalties after 16 working days and incentives for early completion.

Once demolition is done, the 64-day repair contract can begin. ODOT revealed plans prepared by designer Poe & Associates Inc., Oklahoma City, for a job that would cost about $10 million and is scheduled to be let June 12. The project has an aggressive 1,553-hour schedule with $6,000-an-hour early completion bonuses and $6,000-an-hour late fines.

Other developments also cleared the way for the repair work. On June 4, the Federal Highway Administration committed an initial $3 million in emergency relief funds to help with I-40's reconstruction. And the estate of a family killed in the collapse failed in its attempt to slow the demolition but won the right to examine the debris and rubble as it emerges. James, Misty and Shae Johnson all died on May 26 when the barge struck the pier, causing the 500-ft bridge section to collapse. The Shae estate’s attorney says the debris is evidence.

State Attorney General Drew Edmondson has since filed suit against tugboat captain Joe Dedmon, and his employer Magnolia Marine Transport Co., a subsidiary of Jackson, Miss.-based Ergon Inc., for negligence. At 7:43 a.m. on the morning of the May 27 accident, Dedmon apparently blacked out, causing two attached barges to drift outside the navigation channel and hit the bridge (ENR 6/3 p. 11). A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that Dedmon had slept too few hours in the two days prior to the collision.