Arkansas DOT shuts down another bridge for emergency repairs

May 27, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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The Arkansas Department of Transportation discovered another bridge in need of emergency repairs as the state continues to reel from the closure of the Interstate 40 bridge.

On Wednesday, May 26, ARDOT announced that an inspection revealed needed emergency repairs on the Highway 63 bridge over the Spring River near Ravenden. Inspectors found a broken hanger pin. Another pin was not broken but did need to be replaced. Fortunately, the bridge was closed for less than 24 hours.

According to a social media post by ARDOT, the bridge was shut down at 12:40 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 25. Crews completed the repairs and reopened the bridge to traffic by 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

Although the emergency repair resulted in very little impact, it comes about two weeks after ARDOT found a significant fracture on the heavily used I-40 bridge.

Drone footage from 2019 shows the crack, revealing the inspector missed it at least twice during annual inspections. A kayaker claims he has a photo from 2016 that also shows the visible fracture. ARDOT has been under fire since at least May 11 for the costly and dangerous error.

ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor has blamed a single inspector for the missed fracture on the I-40 bridge. That led many people questioning what other bridges that inspector was responsible for. In response, ARDOT published a list of nine other bridges that fell under that inspector’s responsibilities. The Highway 63 bridge in Ravenden is not among those bridges.

The I-40 bridge was on an annual inspection schedule, making the missed fracture even more egregious. However, the Highway 63 bridge in Ravenden is on a two-year cycle for inspections. It was last inspected in June 2019, according to ARDOT.

More concerns about the nation’s infrastructure have come about at the expense of ARDOT’s high-profile I-40 bridge emergency closure. In its quadrennial infrastructure report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave bridges a C, down from a C-plus from the previous report. Arkansas received an overall grade of C-minus, with 5% of bridges deemed structurally deficient. Nationwide, 7.5% of bridges are structurally deficient. Tennessee also scored an overall C-minus, with 4.4% of bridges structurally deficient.

The I-40 bridge closure has emphasized the dire need for a large infrastructure bill as state Departments of Transportation struggle to maintain crumbling roads and bridges. LL

 

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.