President Clinton announced in Little Rock last week that renovation of the Rock Island bridge in front of his library as a pedestrian link would begin in 2010. However, firm commitments are still lacking by some $3 million for the roughly $10.5 million in costs.
But Clinton's announcement did signal that plans were in the works and that led the Times to inquire about progress. According to documents obtained from the Coast Guard, which must issue a permit for the bridge's renovation because it crosses a navigable waterway, the City of Little Rock and the Clinton Foundation have submitted plans for the bridge. The documents contained in the permit application also indicate federal funding, from an unspecified agency, has been applied for to meet remaining costs of construction.
Roger Bush, bridge administrator at the Coast Guard's St. Louis office, says a public notice about the plans should be coming out within “a couple of weeks.”
“The city of Little Rock has made an application for a bridge permit and it's being processed,” Bush said. “We're just going back to them to say that there are changes that need to be done to meet the permit's requirements. The public notice will say what the proposal is and has drawings of what the bridge will be like.”
According to a letter from McClelland Consulting Engineers, the firm responsible for the bridge plans, “a long sloped ramp will allow people to cross up and over the navigation channel. The project will also include lighting and convenience utilities.”
Other documents in the permit application include assurances that the renovation will cause no environmental harm and will have no adverse effect on historic properties. Documents released by the city included no design plans, though Clinton has promised it would be a striking, landmark design.
Bridgette Frazier has left her job as staff attorney at the Arkansas Lottery Commission and nobody is willing to say much about it. Ernestine Middleton, vice president of administration, said in response to an inquiry that Frazier had resigned and added about a replacement: “As this is a very recent development, ASL has not posted the position.”
Frazier said in an e-mail: “I have left. I had a great time and it was an honor to work with so many wonderful Arkansans.”
Frazier was hired for about $105,000 from a job as counsel to the House of Representatives. Her hiring drew some press attention because she'd worked on the staff of Lottery Commission chair Ray Thornton when he was in Congress, a job in which she also worked with Sen. President Pro Tem Bob Johnson. Thornton told legislators Tuesday that a pay disagreement contributed.
Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber has announced her retirement and that will create an opening that Gov. Mike Beebe will fill by appointment until a successor can be elected in 2010.
An interesting rumor surfaced last week on a possible appointment. Beebe reportedly asked Bill Bowen if he was interested in the job. Bowen, a retired banker, distinguished lawyer and namesake of UALR's Law School, has also served as gubernatorial chief of staff. The Altheimer native is 86.