CRAWFORD COUNTY (KFSM) – A $1.05 million project to replace a constantly-flooded bridge in Crawford County is set to begin next week, according to the county emergency management department.
The bridge on Pevehouse Road floods more than 20 times per year because it stands three feet over a creek. The project, set to begin Jan. 5, will build a bridge about 12 feet over the waterway, freeing it from the rising water during rainfall, said Dennis Gilstrap, emergency management director for Crawford County.
"The actual bridge is actually affected in two different ways: If we have localized rain in that area, it will be under water, or if the Arkansas River is in the flood stage it backs up and covers the bridge," Gilstrap said.
The bridge project received about $700,000 in grant money from the Federal Emergency Management, with the city of Van Buren picking up $100,000 and the county covering the remaining $200,000, Gilstrap said.
The new bridge is scheduled to be completed by September, weather permitting, he said. No through traffic will be allowed to cross the bridge during that time.
"Life goes on and we`ve got to keep traffic flowing around," Gilstrap said. "They`ll have to detour around between Mitzi Lane and Sandstone."
Gilstrap said the project was necessary because of the inconvenience the flooded bridge brought to local residents.
"When you`re driving up to it, you can`t see how deep the water actually is and it is always a possibility before they block it off of a car sliding off and sliding into the creek," Susan Lyon, resident said.
The flooding also became a safety issue, as a nearby fire department is forced to take a longer way around the creek when the bridge is flooded during emergencies, Gilstrap said.
“It’s been a big concern for us for some time,” he said.