Rail and River Traffic Back Moving After Bridge Repaired

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Both rail and river traffic is back moving Friday morning (Jan. 24) along the Arkansas River after crews made repairs to fix a broken bridge.

A & M Railroad Police Chief Ron Sparks says crews were working as quickly as possible to make needed repairs to the bridge that extends over the Arkansas River, between Fort Smith and Van Buren.

The bridge has now been lowered and locked into position where trains are able to cross it.

Repair crews met with officials from the Coast Guard Thursday (Jan. 23) where they were able to come up with a plan to restore the barge traffic along the river. Their solution involves using specialized tugs that have a retractable wheel house that can go under the lowered bridge.

In addition, crews may also use a pitch-and-catch method to help barges move through the area if needed. Sparks says one tug would push the barge under the bridge and another tug would be waiting on the other side to catch the barge and help it move along the river.

Crews first noticed a problem with the bridge just after midnight Monday (Jan 20), according to Sparks.

Sparks said two of the cables, which raise and lower the bridge, are broken and crews are investigating to determine the cause of the break.

Authorities are investigating what caused the mechanical failure, according to Sparks.

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