PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – A new report released this week from the Arkansas Highway Department indicates that Arkansas's 12 Thousand bridges are in pretty good shape. Here in Northeast Arkansas there is a top 10 list of bridges that will eventually need replacement.
The biggest bridge project in our areas immediate future will be the Highway 63 bridge replacement at Black Rock. That is scheduled to begin next year and take about 3 years to complete.
Walter McMillan, the District 10 Highway Engineer says that we have lots of bridges in the low areas of Northeast Arkansas, "Some of them, "he said "Still have wooden bases that are simply slathered in concrete. Those need to be replaced." A good example of that are the bridges on Highway 141 South from Highway 412.
Mike Thielemier farms near Pocahontas. He says the bridges he encounters every day with his farm trucks and equipment are alright for now. "I would put them at fair." He said. "They could be better but the way the economy is now, they ain't got that much money to deal with them."
McMillan says the Highway Department gets Federal bridge money every year but it has to be spread around over the whole state. He showed me a list of the current top 10 bridges that needed to be replaced in Northeast Arkansas with the exception of the Black Rock Bridge.
Number six on the list is the old truss bridge at Pocahontas. Underneath the bridge you can hear it creak and rattle as cars and trucks pass over the top. McMillan says he doesn't know for sure how old the bridge is. "I'm not exactly sure but judging by the type of bridge it is, it was probably built before the Black Rock Bridge." That bridge is approaching 70 years old.
Other bridges on the list are scattered across Mississippi, Poinsett, Craighead and Greene counties. Replacement reasons include width, age, structure and approach issues.
"Overall." McMillan says, "Our bridges are pretty safe. If it's that bad we either close it or get out there and make repairs so insure it won't fall in.