On Wednesday, Dec. 14, Fulton County Judge Charles Willett, affected land owners and representatives from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, met at the existing one-lane bridge on 9 Mile Ridge Road to review the final plans and get a look at where the new bridge will cross the Spring River.
Through the generosity of three local land owners, the easements needed to build the new crossing were donated to the county, a significant savings on the overall cost of the project.
"I put in for this project about two and a half years ago," said Willett. "It's good to be this close to getting started on the new bridge. Our road crews drive over that existing bridge in their trucks, but I wouldn't do it. I had figured the last few floods would finally take it out, but each time it has survived. Now, it just needs to hold up until we can get this new bridge finished."
One of the property owners was most worried about his old cottonwood tree. The 100+ year-old tree lies right along the edge of the new project and won't be disturbed by the construction.
The new bridge will have concrete retaining walls, to both protect the old cottonwood tree and to reinforce the two entrances to the 650-foot bridge, which will have two 10-foot-wide lanes and two four-foot-wide shoulders. It will sit about 25 feet above the river, due to the 100-year flood level being raised by a tenth of a foot.
Darrell Glover, who owns the Spring River Valley resort on the far side of the bridge, is one of the land owners who donated property for the project. He is excited to see things moving forward. "This new bridge has been needed for such a long time," said Glover. "I'm hoping they'll leave just a few feet of the old bridge in place, so folks can use it to fish off of."
ASHTD anticipates construction beginning sometime in mid-2013, with completion coming in 2014.