POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - The Highway 67 Bridge in Pocahontas can no longer be preserved on site, and now the city either has to move it or lose it. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department decided the bridge needed to be updated, and the new bridge will be built at the same location.
While it may be just a bridge to some people, to others it means much more. Bill Carroll, president of Five Rivers Historic Preservation, is one of them. "Preserving our history is important to us, and has a lot to do with who we think we are," Carroll said.
The 100 year old bridge is a distinctive landmark for the city, and Carroll said he isn't the only one wanting to save it. "Ever since we lost the railroad bridge, there's been a lot of despair over that. And as soon as it was known that we were about to lose this one…I have had hundreds of people, locally, contact me."
Five Rivers Historic Preservation is leading the efforts in trying to save the bridge, and they know it will not be easy. Carroll said they have no experience or knowledge on what it takes to move a bridge of this size. They also aren't sure how much it will cost.
The highway department will give them $425,000, the cost to demolish it, and is offering advice on how to move it. Carroll said the society has reached out to others for help. "…Contacted the Arkansas Preservation Program. This is a national registered property, and we are hoping they will have an interest in preserving it."
If the bridge can be moved, they hope to turn it into a walking trail. At the moment, Carroll said there are a lot of unknowns, but he isn't losing hope. Carroll added, "Again, its part of our heritage. It's a part of our identity here. It's a part of our identity as a historic river town."
Carroll is still waiting to hear back from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to find out how they suggest the bridge is moved. He hopes to have more information soon so they can begin planning for the future of the historic Highway 67 Bridge.