Push underway to improve Arkansas bridges - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Push underway to improve Arkansas bridges

(Source: KSLA Photojournalist Fred Gamble) (Source: KSLA Photojournalist Fred Gamble)

County Judges in the state of Arkansas are working to repair and replace many rural area bridges, but they’re saying they need help.

Little River County Road foreman Andrew Kennington inspected one of the many bridges in need of repair in his county.

According to him, many of those structures are over 75-years-old.

“We don’t want to put anyone’s safety in danger,” Kennington said.

A study by the Arkansas Judges Association indicates deficient bridges, like the one on Little River County Road 18, are a problem in all 75 Arkansas counties. The report says it will take $750 million to take care of Arkansas County's transportation infrastructure.

Mike Cranford, a judge in Little River County, says approximately 50 of the 200 bridges in his county need improvements and there are some bridges closed because of disrepair.

"That is a conservative number it is not inflated by any stretch," Cranford said.

According to Cranford, judges in the area are gearing up for the next legislative session to ensure that the bridges get the financial help they need.

So far, officials in the area have combated the local bridge problem by lowering the weight limits allowed on many of the bridges.

But, county leaders say more is needed.

“A lot of these bridges were built in the 30's and 40's and they weren't built or designed to carry the amount of traffic that we are putting on them today, so the upgrades that are necessary take a lot of money, and it takes a whole lot more money to build the same bridge today than it did in the 1930's and 40's,” Cranford added.

According to a private engineering firm, there are more than 1100 bridges statewide in need of attention.

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