High water muffles bridge construction at Black Rock

BLACK ROCK, AR (KAIT) - Construction began in mid-May on a new bridge along US Highway 63 connecting rural farmland to the Ozark foothills.

Over one foot of rain fell along the Black River Valley since then, sending the river into minor flood stage on two separate occasions.

"Well it seems like when we get most of our flooding it is the summer for some reason."

As far as flooding is concerned, it's all water under the bridge for Jensen Construction's Bridge Superintendent Randy Ennis.

He's learned how to deal with floodwater in his 26 years of experience.

Just last week, Ennis gave the order to pack up when the water rose above the service road and near construction equipment.

"Everything you see down there had water in it. It came up over the road, I say, Sunday night and so we shut down all week. We came back this morning and everything was dried."

Fortunately, the Black River crested over the weekend and dropped below flood stage earlier Monday.

Crews resumed Stage One construction, drilling down 50 feet to embed the foundation piers.

"We're just in the substructure and that's from the cap all the way down into the ground. The pillars you see, you see the rebar sticking out of the ground. We pour the concrete on top of those and then we build the caps on them. That's what the bridge stands on."

Ennis expects the foundation to be complete later this fall.

The next step will be to connect support beams across the pillars.

"We have 375 working days to get it, so if the floods and rain come in and we can't work, then they don't count those days against us."

Contractors expect traffic on the bridge by late winter of 2014 to early spring of 2015.

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