by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department this morning released preliminary design ideas for a replacement for the Broadway Bridge.
Among other details, the Highway Department said its initial commitment of $45 million for the bridge will be increased to $58 million, based on preliminary engineering studies.
Here's a link to a page about the three proposals. Two are similar, one with red brick detail and one without. The link will give you some more detailed looks at proposals for pedestrian walkways and the like. The website has other details, including an aerial view that shows where existing ramps will be removed or replaced and where an existing Doubletree Hotel entrance will be closed. There are a couple of ideas shown for linking the bridge to Dickey-Stephens Park.
The two types of bridge design chosen tend to be somewhat cheaper and quicker builds than a couple of other designs — a twin-tied arch or cable-stayed (a design that won favor in an unofficial bridge design contest that Metroplan sponsored.)
The public is invited to view them and talk with officials about them at a meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the Arkansas Transit Association, 620 W. Broadway, North Little Rock.
The existing bridge is safe and could be repaired, but highway officials have decided a wider span with better accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists is preferable to continuing repair. Local officials have urged a striking architectural design for the span to make a city landmark. My own preference is for a utilitarian span upriver, at Chester Street, for an additional river crossing. Then, after it's in place and there's an outlet for traffic, replace the Broadway Bridge, which gets heavy rush hour traffic. Rush hours downtown will be hellish if the bridge is closed next year for replacement. The closure could last 18 months or more.