March 09, 2011 Edition

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Meeting set on BR bridge

Gretchen Hunt
Editor

A meeting regarding the Black River bridge at Black Rock will be held on Thursday, March 17, at the Lawrence County Courthouse in Walnut Ridge, according to County Judge Dale Freeman.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and both Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and U.S. Department of Transportation representatives will be present.

In February, the AHTD announced that the weight limit on the bridge had been lowered from the standard limit of 40 tons. The new limit is 33 tons for five-axle trucks.

According to the AHTD, the limit was changed based on an engineering analysis of the structure and an on-site evaluation of the bridge.

Replacement of the bridge is scheduled to begin in 2013, and, according to the AHTD, officials will be routinely monitoring the existing bridge until the new one is completed.

The highway department had reported that impact to travel on Highway 63 should be limited because other nearby bridges are already posted at lower weight limits.

Local trucking companies, gravel quarries and other businesses report having to change their loads to comply with the new weight limit, though. Whether companies cut loads or reroute around the bridge it will increase their costs, especially with the increase in fuel prices.

In addition to the weight limit change, the speed limit on the bridge has also been lowered to 45 miles per hour.

The current status of the bridge, as well as future plans, will be addressed at the March 17 meeting. The public is invited to attend.

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