State begins examination of Beaver Bridge

Friday, June 13, 2008
Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept. Bridge Engineer David Boutwell (middle) and a crew examine the underside of the Beaver Bridge for damage. They were out Wednesday to make a preliminary assessment of repairs that might be needed. Flooding from Corps of Engineers releases from Beaver Dam in March and April put the bridge in jeopardy when it was hit by a 1,000-gallon propane tank, hot tub and other swiftly moving debris. Total damage cannot be assessed until water levels drop sufficiently for its underside to be fully examined. Photo by Barb Kerbox

BEAVER -- The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) will be erecting concrete barriers to keep all vehicles from the Beaver Bridge until further notice.

Engineers were out Wednesday in a boat examining the underside of the one-lane wooden suspension bridge for damage from recent flooding of the White River and Table Rock Lake.

During heavy water flow in March and April, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened Beaver Dam floodgates, impact from a 1,000-gallon propane tank, hot tub and other debris bent the railings on the bridge. The ends of the bridge remain under a small amount of water, although local residents have been crossing the bridge on foot.

"Some beams are twisted," said Beaver Mayor Duane Kriesel. "The left side of the bridge, going toward Holiday Island, is listing, so they will have to make adjustments for some of those bending beams."

He said AHTD told him their main concern is the anchors that go into the ground at each end of the bridge. Although they are sunk into concrete underground, the dirt surrounding them may have turned to mud from being underwater so long.

"They just won't know until the water level goes down and they can inspect them."

Kriesel said the water level at the bridge is 928 feet above sea level. He said the level had gone down a couple inches overnight.

"They want it down to 917 by July 15," he said, which is the top of the generation pool during the summer months.

During the winter months it's 915. Last summer, during the drought season, it had dropped to 913.

People can walk across the bridge, Kriesel said. Some are wading barefoot through thigh-high water on the Beaver side and four inches on the Holiday Island side. Others are wearing boots.

But the bridge will be closed to all vehicles until AHTD can determine its safety and what repairs might be needed.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: