Hwy. 79 bridge — the driveable one.
The future of the old Highway 79 bridge at Clarendon
is uncertain, but it's a good thing the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department didn't jump the gun on demolishing it.
That's because the new bridge at Clarendon — or at least the western approach, which is elevated over U.S. Fish and Wildlife wetlands — is snakebit.
Hill Brothers Construction Co
. won the bid for the western approach — $24.5 million — in 2010 and the AHTD expected the new bridge would be open by Labor Day 2015.
Hill Brothers went out of business in 2013. Their surety company, Liberty Mutual, took over the project, and W.G. Yates and Sons
construction company was hired to take over. In April 2015, AHTD inspectors on what they thought would be nearly their last inspection discovered that 70 "bearing pads" — which help a bridge handle vertical and horizontal stresses — were "180 degrees off," AHTD spokesman Danny Straessle
said. That means they were installed upside down. Of the 70, only 58 required corrective action, Straessle said.
When the errors were found, "several proposals for remediation were submitted by the contractor over the subsequent months and rejected by the Department," Straessle said. The replacement bearings had to be drawn and fabricated; they were delivered in mid-February, Straessle said. "It was anticipated [it would take] about a month or so to replace and reorient the pads in question, putting completion sometime in April ."
Then came high water. That means no work has been done on the bridge since April 2015.
Yates expects to start correcting the pads on July 6; once the pads are corrected, the contractors will tie in to the White River and eastern approach section of the bridge. Straessle said the AHTD hopes the bridge will be finished by Labor Day. That depends on the weather, of couyrse.
Because Yates was not at fault, Straessle said, the surety company is paying the $2,500 fine for each day the project runs long, which stands at 20 today. (Contractual working days, figured at 130 a year, include exceptions for high water and weather, which is why the project that should have been completed last year is only 20 days overdue.)
MAX HERE: This from the guys — the Arkansas Highway
Department — who want to plow 12 lanes of concrete through the heart of Little Rock, providing assurances all the while this will be good for the city.