County Contemplates Closing Historic War Eagle Bridge

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) - The War Eagle Bridge is considered one of the most historic bridges in Arkansas.

The state says the bridge is in bad shape, and now the county faces having to close it, because the State Highway Department says the iconic bridge is in need of significant repairs.

Every year, for the past three years, the county has been warned of faults in the bridge.

Now, County Judge Bob Clinard says a decision has to be made.

He says there are two options. Either routinely repair the current bridge, or close the bridge to traffic and build a new one somewhere else.

The War Eagle Bridge has been open for more than 100 years.

Clinard says a newer, bigger, and better bridge could last for another 100 years on its own.

"People travel from miles around this country, just to come see this bridge," said Wesley Behner, an employee at the War Eagle Bridge Mill.

"We use this bridge on a daily basis," Behner said. "Without this bridge here, our business wouldn't be so good. We wouldn't be able to access the demands of our customers.”

Right now, traffic on the bridge is limited to passenger cars and small trucks only.

The county says they need to make a decision whether to keep the bridge, or build a new one that can handle large trucks and buses.

Therefore, they are in the process of hiring an engineer to determine the repair costs.

Clinard says he is torn on which route to take.

But, he is prepared to cross that bridge when the time comes.

Clinard tells 5NEWS repairs to the historic bridge would be funded by the county.

However, if elected to build a new bridge the Federal Government, and state, would help pay for construction.

7 comments

  • Well...

    Why not just keep the old bridge for foot traffic only, and then build a new bridge for auto traffic? Best of both worlds.

  • Benny

    I agree. Keep the old one for foot traffic and build a new one for vehicle traffic. I’m sure private support could be raised to keep the old bridge in safe repair for foot traffic.

  • S L

    Remember when brilliant officials closed Emma Avenue for a new school?
    Don’t be a fool Benton County. War Eagle Fair, both spring and fall, are all dependent on the historic bridge. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pay the piper.
    If the job is too big, hire someone knowledgeable with historic bridges.

  • Steven W Lindsey

    Nice how are federal government ponies up money for destroying heritage, yet is absent for the preservation of

    • AJ

      If *our federal government ponied up money to save everything historical, our infrastructure would be in even worse shape than it is now!

  • AJ

    I agree with the others. Build a new, modern bridge and find a way to save the old one for pedestrian/bicycle traffic. Solicit Walmart and Tyson to provide funding to preserve it for the ped/bike traffic. What those corporations make in a few seconds could pay for that.

  • Koda Wolf

    Why is this historical bridge suddenly considered to be in such bad shape? It was satisfactorily rehabilitated several years back by the state so why is it being considered for replacement by a county judge? I have a hard time coming to the conclusion that ‘public safety’ is driving this endeavor.

    On a side note, this is the same county judge who was cited for public intoxication at Frisco Fest last August. No breath analysis by the police nor blood testing for alcohol by the hospital. End result – charges dropped – lack of evidence. Let John Q. Public try this and see what happens.

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