Highway Trust Fund uncertainties delay construction on new Bono Bridge

Highway Trust Fund uncertainties delay construction on new Bono Bridge
Uncertainties on the federal level have caused major delays for a long-awaited bridge project in Craighead County.

BONO, AR (KAIT) - "For a lot of people, it's a shortcut to Bono," Craighead County Judge Ed Hill said.

Hill is talking about constructing a new "Bono Bridge". Once built, it will reconnect County Roads 352 and 353. In doing so, Judge Hill said safety will also increase.

"In case the track at Bono is blocked or the track at Hasbrook is blocked, the emergency people will always know this will be open because it's an overhead bridge," Judge Hill said.

Earlier this year, the Bono Bridge project was set to be bid out for construction in July. However, the state highway department won't let out bids for the project until Congress can reach a decision on funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

The highway fund reimburses state highway departments for major road, bridge and transit projects.

The Senate and House have been unable to find a solution to keep the highway fund from running dry. Their deadline to figure something out is July 31.

"If the state don't know for sure if they're gonna get their money, they can't go out on a limb and spend that money," Judge Hill said. "They don't know if they're gonna get it back or not til they settle this deal in Washington."

AHTD is set to pay for 80 percent of the Bono Bridge project.

For now, Judge Hill said it's a waiting game. He explained that everything is in order on their end to start construction as soon as things move forward in Congress. They've obtained the land needed for the path of the new bridge.

The old, wooden Bono Bridge was torn down by Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2011. BNSF owned the bridge and cited safety concerns for train crews and the public as reasons to tear it do.

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