“This is a significant problem for us in the region”: Rep. Rick Crawford on I-40 Bridge

Rep. Crawford says the shutdown of the Hernando deSoto bridge can have a negative economic impact long term
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The shutdown of the Hernando deSoto Bridge may cause economic problems with everyone having to rely on the I-55 bridge.

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro), who is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says that it also impacts the flow of barge traffic as well.

“Right now, those barges can’t move because they can’t cross under the bridge in the state that it’s in now,” Rep. Crawford said.

Crawford added this now leaves businesses frantic having to figure out alternate methods of transporting goods, saying the railroad industry is operating “over-capacity” and not enough manpower with the truck driver shortage.

There is still no estimate on when the Hernando deSoto Bridge will be repaired and reopened, but Crawford mentions that there are talks of the federal government assistance on costs.

“That is a significant investment,” Crawford said, “We also have to make a determination on whether this is going to be a repair or this is going to be a replacement.”

State Democrats also criticized Rep. Crawford Wednesday over the infrastructure issue, saying they believe he has focused on national political issues like a vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney as House Republican Chair.

“Rep. Crawford spent his day infighting with his fellow Republicans over fellow Rep. Liz Cheney, meanwhile one of the most important bridges in East Arkansas had to have an emergency shut down. I’d urge him to spend time talking with President Biden and finding ways to work on passing the federal infrastructure bill that would take care of exactly this type of problem - before the bridge has to be shut down. There are 663 bridges in Arkansas that are documented as being in poor condition. Let’s not wait on fixing that, let’s start doing the work and building together. Arkansas deserves it,” State Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray said in a statement Wednesday.

Rep. Crawford countered that he has worked on the infrastructure issue for several years and spent time Wednesday on the phone with state and federal officials on the bridge issue.

“Well, I would say the Democrats are having a hard time multi-tasking. I spent about 15 minutes in conference this morning and there was a vote, a voice vote by the way for a leadership change and then I went on about my business,” Rep. Crawford said. “So, I haven’t devoted a whole, heckuva lot of time to the Liz Cheney issue. Unfortunately, Liz Cheney and Donald Trump are living rent-free in the minds of Democrats, while I am focused on infrastructure,” Rep. Crawford said.

Ideas have been brought up on the region having a third bridge, solely for motorists.

Rep. Crawford says it’s a “conversation worth having.”

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