Concerned residents address representatives from AHTD

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - Controversy is swirling over the Black Rock Bridge.

"My biggest fear is going out of business," said Donald Tapp.

Gravel truck driver Donald Tapp says  he and many others were dealt a major economic blow after the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department reduced the weight limit for 5 axle trucks crossing the highly traveled bridge.

"You're making more trips, carrying less materials, driving more miles," said Tapp.

"Our economy is not good, we all know that, but this is having a devastating affect," said concerned resident, Bobby Goza.

Many of those who are affected addressed their concerns face to face with representatives from the AHTD Thursday night.

"Obviously it was not a popular decision, but it was one we felt like we had to make for the sake of public safety," said Randy Ort.

Randy Ort, with AHTD, says there's a new bridge in the works tentatively scheduled to go to contract in 2013.

"We're also looking to see if there are any interim improvements that we can make, interim repairs that we can make, that would allow us to bump the weight restrictions or to remove the weight restrictions from this bridge," said Ort.

Ort says they reduced the weight limit on 5 axle trucks from 80 thousand pounds to 66 thousand pounds.  He adds it can absolutely make a difference.

"If a bridge doesn't flex enough it can be a safety hazard.   If a bridge flexes too much it can be a safety hazard.   That's what we're dealing with here. We've got a bridge that's not functioning, the components of the bridge are not functioning the way they should and we feel like the best interest in public safety is to reduce the limit," said Ort.

"It's hard to operate a business when you're spending 50 percent of your money on fuel," said Tapp.

Tapp says he is hoping for a resolution to help ease the strain on his livelihood and those of many others.

"If nothing else, continue the way they've been doing it on repairs--one lane--maybe one lane at a time across the bridge. A slow down like that would be better than no existence," said Tapp.

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