Historic Bridges Restoration Project Gets Public Input

Posted on: 12:03 pm, December 18, 2013, by , updated on: 12:26pm, December 18, 2013

The Maple and Lafayette bridges in Fayetteville near the University of Arkansas are part of a restoration project that received public input during its design phase.

“We’ll look at those comments, compile them and see if we need to make any changes to the plans,” said Chris Brown, city engineer.

The restoration plans are about 30 percent complete, according to Brown.

“We have also submitted those plans to the Highway Department and to the State Historic Preservation Office,” Brown said. “They have to review and approve all of the changes that may be done.”

Both bridges are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the city plans to restore them to their original condition when they were built in the 1930s.

“We want to make sure to go through the process properly so it does take a little bit of extra time but it’s important to get it done right,” Brown said.

The restoration project will cost $1.4 million. $1 million will come from the Federal-Aid Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program. The rest will be paid from a bond project voters approved in 2006.

Brown said the federal aid will save the city money.

“The trade off is that there is more hoops to jump through,” Brown said. “There’s more of a process we have to follow because these are historic bridges, so it’s not just a standard city project.”

Dozens of University of Arkansas students use the bridges daily since both are near campus.

“It’s not ugly right now but it definitely is kind of a bad road driving through it,” said Natalie Johnson, UA student. “It does have a lot of potholes.”

On the Maple Street Overpass Bridge, some proposed major work includes replacing the entire concrete deck, concrete railings, applying a graffiti protection system and widening the existing sidewalk on each side to about 10 feet.

The Lafayette Street Overpass Bridge’s proposed repairs include replacing the concrete retaining wall, widening the sidewalks on each side to about six feet, replacing lighting fixtures, and adding a pedestrian and bicyclist safety railing on each side.

“I don’t know if it’s worth $1.4 million, but I can definitely see it could use some face-lifting for sure,” Johnson said.

The city hopes to start construction by mid to third quarter 2014 and is expected to take six to 12 months to complete.