NORTH LITTLE ROCK - Wednesday, Sept. 28, is scheduled to be the last operational day of the 93-year-old Broadway bridge that crosses the Arkansas River between North Little Rock and Little Rock.
The bridge is slated to be demolished in stages, according to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.
The closing of the bridge will impact commuters across central Arkansas as the Interstate 30 bridge, already the busiest stretch of highway in the state, will take on additional traffic, as will the Main Street bridge that connects the downtowns of North Little Rock and Little Rock.
Some commuters will head east and cross the Arkansas River at the I-440 bridge, while others will avail themselves of the I-430 bridge that connects Maumelle and North Little Rock to Little Rock.
The Main Street bridge has been designated as the official alternate route.
The Broadway Bridge will be closed to traffic for the last time since it opened on Christmas Day 1922, the Highway Department said.
The Department’s Construction and Travel Information site, www.IDriveArkansas.com, displays available alternate routes as well as live traffic information on those routes.
“Motorists are encouraged to select an alternate route that works best for their individual commutes and to start using these before the bridge actually closes,” the Highway Department said in a news release.
Once the existing bridge is closed, the contract calls for the new bridge to be opened to traffic within six months. This time frame was provided by the contractor in its bid on the project.
According to state transportation officials, it is in the contractor’s best interest to get the bridge done as soon as possible.
“An earlier opening will earn the contractor an incentive of $80,000 per day,” a Highway Department spokesman said. “Conversely, a longer closure would cost the contractor an equal daily disincentive.”
Some of the early demolition work on the existing bridge will occur mechanically. There will be at least three phases that will use cutting charges and other explosives to remove the existing concrete arches, the steel arch, and the existing footings.
Announcements of the dates for the demolition phasing will be forthcoming, the Highway Department said.
Although the original structure opened to traffic in late December 1922, it wasn’t until the spring of 1923 that the entire project was completed at a cost of $971,00, according to the Highway Department.
In 1972 the bridge was modified by removing two spans on the south side to make way for a single, wider navigation span when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The single, silver-colored arch that has become an iconic part of the city of Little Rock’s skyline was paid for by the Corps of Engineers at an approximate cost of $2.5 million.