SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Officials with the Office of Emergency Management in Sharp County said Thursday three bridges do not meet proper standards.
The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department suggested the county replace three bridges in the Evening Shade area.
Daniel Melbourne, the OEM coordinator, said 30,000-pound school buses travel over these bridges daily, and safety has become a concern.
He said the current bridges only hold up to 10 tons, and state highway officials have said they need bridges that can hold up to 15 tons to safely accommodate the school buses.
"These bridges were built back in the 40's and we are trying to get them upgraded for school buses and daily traffic," Melbourne said. "The beams underneath, well most bridges you would space them up to three feet apart. Most of these older bridges are spaced 4 to 4.5 feet apart, which doesn't give the down pressure strength when vehicles cross over the bridge."
The county has replaced several in the past. Melbourne said they are looking for grants to help fund this must-do project.
"The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management offers a mitigation grant," Melbourne said. "It's a 50/50 grant. We do 50% of the cost towards it and they do the other 50%."
He said if chosen for the grant, each bridge would cost roughly $70,000 a piece. The county will know by July if they receive it.
"Two of the bridges are here on Simms Town Road and the other one is on the south end," Melbourne said. "This particular bridge right here will be replaced with box culverts. It will take about a week from the time we tear down the old one and put up the new one. The road will be closed for about a week and then we will be done."
Melbourne said the construction would not be an inconvenience to drivers. He said alternate routes are available.
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