Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TOP STORY > >Water-line work resumes from LR

Leader staff writer

Work will resume on two 30-inch water pipes underneath the I-430 bridge in Little Rock that was stopped after three men were killed in April 2008 when the scaffold they were standing on collapsed.

The 40-foot-by-6-foot scaffold that failed will be replaced by one that will run the entire 4,200 feet of the bridge. The Arkansas Highway Department has renewed the permit for the work that is expected to resume in about a month.

The scaffold that fell hung from a cable that ran between the inch-wide crack that separates the two lanes of the bridge. The new scaffolding will be attached to the underneath of the bridge, allowing the workers access to the full length of the bridge at one time.

The large pipes underneath the bridge are part of a $44 million project that will allow Jacksonville, North Pulaski Water Association and Cabot to buy water from Central Arkansas Water at Lake Maumelle and end their dependence on well water.

Blake Weindorf, an engineer with CAW, said Tuesday that he picked up the permit for the pipes underneath the bridge on Aug. 19.

“We contacted the contractor. He’ll be on the ground this Friday and several crews will be starting in mid September,” Weindorf said.

That work (including laying the line, pressure testing it and repairing any damage to the finish on the bridge caused by the construction) should be completed by the end of March 2011, he said and the entire project should be completed on schedule by October 2011.

Oscar Renda Contracting Inc. of Roanoke, Texas, contracted with CAW in 2006 to lay the pipe underneath the bridge for $6.2 million. Weindorf said he doesn’t know how much the new scaffolding will cost, but CAW is paying nothing extra for it.

“I’m sure their profit on this job has been gone,” he said.

The three men who were killed worked for Oscar Renda. The body of one was found caught in the cables of the scaffold when it was raised from the Arkansas River about eight hours after it fell. Heavy rain had caused swift water in the river and the search for the other bodies was called off. A second body was found several months after the accident, but the third was not found.