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.