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Contractor Faces Hefty Penalty if Late for TX-OK Red River Football Game

Sat September 20, 2003 - West Edition
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Contractors will pay substantial penalties if any lanes of Interstate 35 in southern Oklahoma are closed when the highway gets a workout from football fans heading to Dallas for the Red River rivalry game.

If all four lanes of I-35 are not open during the travel-heavy weekends of the Oct. 11 University of Oklahoma vs. University of Texas football game and Thanksgiving, the contractor will lose $4,000 per closed lane per hour.

Keck Construction of Tulsa has two adjacent projects under way on I-35 in southern Oklahoma, each covering about 7 mi. (11.2 km).

“It’s a pretty substantial disincentive,” said Randle White, the Transportation Department’s engineer over construction in Division 7, which roughly includes the counties surrounding Ardmore, Lawton and Chickasha. “The people at Keck said just for a weekend, that could cost them half a million dollars.”

One $10.1-million project runs from about mile marker 46 south to mile marker 39, just north of Ardmore. Traffic is limited to one lane in each direction, but two to four miles of the southern part of the project are expected to be finished by Oct. 11.

“We recognized it would be very difficult to have 14 miles of one-lane traffic on I-35 during this time frame,” White said. “We took specific steps in the contract, and also broke the project out into phases of two miles and five miles.”

The second, an $11.8-million project, continues down to about mile marker 31 near the U.S. 70 intersection at Ardmore. Traffic is limited to one lane each direction from mile marker 31 to mile marker 33, but that is expected to be completed by the OU-Texas weekend.

Construction on the stretch from mile marker 33 to mile marker 39 won’t begin until December or January.

Transportation Department spokeswoman Terri Angier said companies usually have no objections to the disincentives.

“Contractors really did come along with us on it and help make it successful,” Angier said of the contract provisions. “I think the contractors understand the benefits of it. Safety is a big factor for the crew, a high volume of traffic means more risk for the workers.”