JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Work continues on the Harrisburg Road overpass in Jonesboro.
Crews with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department have been working in shifts around the clock to repair damage done in an accident on Tuesday.
District Engineer Brad Smithee said as of Friday they've made major progress.
"This morning we were able to accomplish getting the structural concrete placed in the column that was damaged in this week's accident," Smithee said. "About 9 a.m. we had the concrete pumping truck and the concrete ready mix on site. We were able to drill or cut a hole through the deck and place the concrete in the column. So, that was a major accomplishment for us to get the first permanent structural member back in place. And of course, that allowed us to beat the rain and it worked out really well."
Smithee said they are even ahead of schedule.
"We're about 24 hours ahead of our hoped-for schedule for that pour," Smithee said. "So, we're very excited to be a little ahead of schedule. One of the benefits from that was we beat the rain and now we have to wait for that concrete to cure to gain its strength."
Smithee said they decided to pour the concrete from the top to the bottom.
"Due to several items of ease and some of difficulty," Smithee said. "Obviously, you'll see the forms. The forms are about 12-feet-high down there. So, directly out of the concrete truck was not an option. And so, the next option would be a bucket brigade. And that's very hard with this amount of concrete. So, the next option would have been to be able to get above it. And that's why we drilled and cut a small hole in the bridge deck. From there, we could have dumped it directly though. But long falls with mixed concrete allows it to separate. And so, the pumper truck is the long giraffe looking thing, it allows you to drop the hose down into the bottom of the structure pouring the concrete out en masse as it comes out. It keeps it consolidated and keeps it from segregating. It's just a tool that's huge."
Smithee said the lanes they've set up for traffic seem to be working so far.
He said they don't plan to move anything at this time.
"Traffic is going to maintain its current condition for the foreseeable future," Smithee said. "Of course, the one-lane direction north and south on Highway 1B on the bridge, we're going to continue maintaining them on the west side of the bridge like it's been for a couple of days now. We really don't anticipate trying to change that. We do have a couple of options. We're seeing very good things out of traffic. People are choosing some alternate routes which is great. We know there's a heavy traffic load here at any given busy peak hour of the day. And we're not seeing anything worse than any normal day at this point. So, we hope to maintain it just like it is. That is the safest for all involved. For now, and until we're complete, we anticipate leaving everything just like it is."
Smithee asked motorists to respect the barriers put in place and not to cross the barrels for their own safety.
He said once the concrete cures they'll return to the site and pick up where they left off.
"This also lets our crews gain some much-needed rest," Smithee said. "So, we're going to kind of stand down for a day or two here while the concrete cures. Our plan is for our crews to be back on-site Sunday night about 6 p.m. and they will start demolishing. The crews will work throughout that night and we will continue our work next week."
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