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After some delays, the Spanker Bridge project will be going to bid soon.

County Judge Barry Moehring said that the need to secure right-of-way from a handful of nearby properties delayed the approximately $1 million project which was initially expected to start in December 2017.

Additional delays, he said, came from filling out paperwork for a $500,000 federal grant, and the project is currently going through the certification process with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which could be finished in the next few weeks, after which the plan can be advertised to potential contractors.

Bids should open in September, he said, and construction could begin as early as October.

"These are complex projects and they don't just rush in," he said.

Once construction begins, Moehring said that the bridge will be closed for approximately nine months, during which time residents will need to find alternate routes -- something which may not always be easy.

"That is a very busy bridge that leads to a very busy road," he said.

Messaging is very important, he said, and staff members are working with Bentonville School District, the city of Bella Vista and the POA to get the word out.

Benton County communications director Channing Barker said that, while alternate routes include Mercy Way and Trafalgar Road to reach U.S. Highway 71 and taking Euston Road to Commonwealth Road to reach Benton County Road 40, commuters need to be aware that these roads can also become busy and may be backed up.

Mayor Peter Christie of Bella Vista said that the current bridge goes across a box culvert and, during heavy rains, brush tends to clog the culverts, which then causes water to overtop the bridge, creating a hazard and damaging the bridge.

The replacement will be a span bridge, he said, which should not have these flooding issues.

While the construction is necessary, he said, Bella Vistans need to be ready for increased traffic volume on U.S. Highway 71.

"We're going to have traffic all over the place," he said.

Moehring said that, despite the difficulty, the safety outweighs it. The new bridge will be sturdier and safer, he said.

"A lot of the types of flooding that have occurred in the past will not occur with this bridge. So I know there's going to be some short-term pain on this, but there's going to be long-term gain," Moehring said.

General News on 08/01/2018

Print Headline: Spanker Bridge construction time determined

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