Repair work for War Ea­gle Bridge on track

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - TOM SISSOM

BEN­TONVILLE — War Ea­gle Bridge repair work is on sched­ule, which means it could re­open in Septem­ber, Ben­ton County of­fi­cials said.

“Thus far, ev­ery­thing seems to be go­ing well,” County Judge Barry Moehring said of the work. “They had some is­sues early on get­ting some of the ma­te­ri­als, some of the steel they needed to use, but that’s been taken care of. So we’re look­ing at it be­ing com­pleted on sched­ule and in time for the fall crafts fair.”

The bridge was closed the week of May 8 and will re­main closed un­til the work is done. The county awarded the con­tract to repair the 109-year-old bridge to Cross­land Heavy Con­struc­tion. The con­tract in­cluded a fi­nal com­ple­tion date of Sept. 30, but Moehring said the work could be done sooner.

Pat Adams, jus­tice of the peace and chair­man of the Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee, said the weather needs to cooperate in the com­ing months.

“It looks like as long as we get good con­struc­tion weather, we’ll make the Septem­ber open­ing like we’ve an­tic­i­pated,” Adams said.

The county has re­stricted traf­fic on the bridge since 2013 by low­er­ing the weight limit to 3 tons. The county spent about $640,000 on re­pairs to the bridge in 2010, but state in­spec­tors found crit­i­cal de­fi­cien­cies dur­ing an in­spec­tion in 2013.

The county hired Great River En­gi­neer­ing of Spring­field, Mo., to in­spect the bridge and iden­tify prob­lems, then do de­sign work and de­velop a scope of work to re­store the bridge. The firm de­vel­oped a three­tiered ap­proach with each ad­di­tional step in­clud­ing

more repair to ex­tend the life of the bridge.

Brenda Guen­ther, comp­trol­ler, said the county has $1.4 mil­lion in the bud­get for the work. The county has been awarded a $500,000 fed­eral grant to re­im­burse some of the cost once the work is done un­der the Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives Pro­gram, a fed­eral-aid pro­gram to con­struct side­walks and trails for pedes­tri­ans, bi­cy­clists and other non­mo­tor­ized forms of trans­porta­tion. The pro­gram also cre­ates sys­tems that pro­vide safe routes for non-mo­torists, in­clud­ing chil­dren, older adults and in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties. The War Ea­gle Bridge project was one of 71 se­lected to re­ceive $16 mil­lion from the pro­gram dur­ing 2015.

The Quo­rum Court au­tho­rized Moehring to ap­ply for the ad­di­tional grant money at its April meet­ing. The max­i­mum amount of grant money the county could re­ceive on the project would be about $1.1 mil­lion, Guen­ther said at that time. The county has to pro­vide a 20 per­cent match for any grant funds awarded.

Marc Trollinger, county fire mar­shal, said emer­gency re­sponse agen­cies have im­ple­mented plans to deal with the bridge be­ing closed, some of which was put into ef­fect when the weight re­stric­tions were adopted.

Am­bu­lance cov­er­age will be pro­vided by Hick­ory Creek Fire Sta­tion crews, Trollinger said. Fire­fight­ers from Nob Hill in Wash­ing­ton County and Hick­ory Creek in Ben­ton County will be ready to aid Piney Point Fire Depart­ment volunteers who live in the area if needed, Trollinger said. Re­sponse times will re­main essen­tially the same, he said.

“It has been tested and it is work­ing,” Trollinger said of emer­gency re­sponse plans. “We had a brush fire call ear­lier this week and we sent mu­tual aid.”

The county has adopted a pol­icy of send­ing as­sis­tance sooner than it has in the past to ac­count for any added travel time and dis­tance, Trollinger said.

“If we have a grass fire we go ahead and dis­patch mu­tual aid,” Trollinger said. “If it’s a medic call we dis­patch a Ben­ton County am­bu­lance from Hick­ory Creek in­stead of Rogers. They ac­tu­ally have a quicker re­sponse time.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Dylan Buck­ley with Great River En­gi­neer­ing shows Wed­nes­day the sec­ond coat of paint ap­plied to the War Ea­gle Bridge. The fi­nal coat will be gloss black, the orig­i­nal color of the bridge.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Work­ers un­der plas­tic sheet­ing Wed­nes­day paint the War Ea­gle Bridge.

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