February 26, 2014 Edition

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Construction continues
on Black River bridge

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Since the Arkansas Highway Department placed a load restriction on the Black River Bridge and lowered the speed limit, some good results from subsequent bridge inspections have been found according to Brad Smithee, District Construction Engineer with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

"These changes have resulted in lowering the impact loadings to the structure and have reduced the frequency of some of repairs we were having to perform," he said.

"The AHTD will continue performing inspections and repairs that may be necessary until we get the new structure complete and ready for traffic." Smithee also said construction on the new bridge is progressing well despite some difficulties with setting the support structure.

The design for this structure requires drilling into the soil and subsequent rock to a point where suitable material can be found that will provide structural support for the bridge.

Prior to construction preliminary core drilling was performed at the site to allow for the design of the substructure.

"However, core drilling is generally not performed at each and every shaft location because subsurface geological formations usually do not change significantly when you only move relatively short distances on the surface," he said.

"We have, in fact, encountered differences in the expected elevation of suitable rock on several of the shafts. Although the preliminary cores were spread across the area very well, the construction drilling has resulted in finding good rock at both higher and lower elevations than planned."

Smithee said this has required some additional design work in order to make sure the shaft is correctly built for the specific location and therefore has also required additional drilling at times.

"Extra drilling does take some additional time but at this point in the project, we do not expect significant delays in completion due to these differences," Smithee concluded.

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