Judge concerned about flooding on road with broken bridge

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A road in Independence County is at risk of being washed away because of a bridge that has not been repaired yet.

The bridge is on Holcombe Cemetery Road between Charlotte and Newark.

It caved in during last spring's major flooding and was expected to be fixed by November, but due to what the county judge considers an unnecessarily lengthy process, it still sits broken.

"When FEMA came in and said we were ready to go, we were ready to go," Independence County Judge Robert Griffin said. "We opened bids. We had a great bid from a good contractor that was ready to go to work."

The project was opened for bids on August 29, 2017, and Griffin said the work could have been finished by late last year.

But then he found out that Holcombe Cemetery Road is designated a federal route and has to go through a different process.

"I don't know how it got to be a federal route, but it is," Griffin said. "FEMA knew it was eligible, and it is eligible, but now we go through a different bureaucratic process."

It has not gone back to bid yet.

In the meantime, county crews built a gravel road around the broken bridge so traffic can continue to flow, but the continuing rain could take a toll on that temporary solution.

"The rain this morning was within a foot of topping the bypass and if it does, even though we've got riprap, it will cut it out," Griffin said Friday. "And so it becomes an additional expense to go back and repair it for something we could have had gone 3 or 4 months ago."

Griffin said not only is he trying to quickly fix this problem, he is also working with state representatives and FEMA officials to try and streamline this process.

"My suggestion is, FEMA is the federal agency, so give them access to the disaster funding under the Federal Highway Act and not require to go through all these bureaucratic processes that are typically reserved for new federal routes, expansion of major highways, things that are not even related to this," Griffin said.

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