Monday, September 23, 2013

TOP STORY >> Council votes $22,000 to fix unsafe bridge

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council voted Thursday to waive competitive bidding on and pay $22,000 for repairs to a 57-by-27-foot bridge on North J.P. Wright Loop Road.

Mehaffey Construction of North Little Rock was hired as the contractor for the project.

A few weeks ago, the city closed the bridge to trucks with loads heavier than three tons.

The bridge is between the railroad tracks and the four-way stop sign at the intersection of Graham and Loop roads.

Public Works Director Jimmy Oakley said then that a state Highway Department inspector found that the bridge was moving more than it should when vehicles were driving over it.

Crews working on Graham Road and the shooting complex have been using that bridge to get to the construction sites, the public works director explained.   

Oakley said previously, “It’s been really hammered this past year. All them heavy loads are taking a toll on it…We’ve got to think about the safety.”

According to engineer Tommy Bond, the contractor and the public works staff started strengthening the weak columns underneath the bridge on Sept. 10.

It was reopened to all traffic Monday, less than a week later. 

He also said the state Highway Department would be inspecting it every six months, instead of every 24 months like they did before.

Bond said a new four-lane bridge with a sidewalk on the west side is being designed to replace the old one.

The design could be finished this winter, he continued. A bid opening for that project could be held in the spring with construction starting in the summer, Bond said.

The long-range plan is to widen Loop Road from Linda Lane to Military Road.

Oakley said earlier this month that it makes more sense to build a wider bridge now, when a new bridge is needed there anyway, than to replace the bridge now and four-lane it in 10 years.

In other business:

• The council, for a second time, agreed to apply for a $40,000 50-50 matching grant to help build the archery trail at the shooting range. Mayor Gary Fletcher explained that some wording needed to be changed in the resolution that the council passed in August.

Parks Director Kevin House said then that the city’s portion would be about $20,000, if the estimated cost of $40,000 for the trail is correct.

• Leroy Hubbert, a trainee instructor at Pathfinder in Jacksonville and a head coach for the Special Olympics, thanked Jacksonville officials for their support.

Two of the Pathfinder basketball team players, Narkevis Arnold and Dedrick Brown, were selected to compete at the national June 2014 Special Olympics in New Jersey.

Hubbert said Arnold and Brown have made Pathfinder history by being the first clients there to attend the national games. The coach added that the Pathfinder team finished second in the state last year and fourth this year. They were also in a higher division this year, Hubbert noted.

• The council voted to accept a $95,040 bid from Building and Utility Con-tractors of Redfield for phase two of the Galloway drainage project.