BLACK ROCK, AR (KAIT) -With the bridge over Black River at Black Rock aging more each day, business owners are stressing over the reduced weight limits they are forced to use.
"It should be let to contract late this year and work should start on it in the spring of 2013."
That's the latest status on the new bridge at Black Rock according to Walter McMillian the AHTD district engineer.
The Black Rock bridge has been around for quite some time.
McMillan, "It was finished after the war and opened to traffic in either 1947 or 49."
And it wasn't designed for the amount of traffic it is subjected to.....every day.
The state has pushed the bridge up high on their "to do" list, but it's going to be expensive project.
McMillan says that despite the protests, chances are the weight restrictions will not be lifted. Why? Because it appears like it's working.
"For the first time in several inspections, the problem areas we were having." He said, "We didn't find any more damage than the last inspection. That leads me to believe the restrictions are working and won't more than likely be removed."
And how close will the new bridge be to the old bridge..literally, a stone's throw, or about 10 feet.
The designers aren't finished yet but McMillan said that the new bridge will look like the present day 5 lane Lake City Bridge only a lot taller.
McMillan says the bids should be let near the end of the year and construction could begin early next year. It will take about 2 and a half years to complete the project.McMillan showed me an artists drawing of the new bridge, "The estimate just for the bridge is around 30 million dollars." He said but the money has been appropriated so the bridge plans are moving ahead.
MacMillan says the design for the deck part is about 60 percent completed.
In 2011 new weight and speed restrictions were placed on the bridge causing much furor from local haulers.