The other bridge
With so much hubbub over the supposedly imminent renovation of the Rock Island Bridge downtown (former President Clinton said construction would begin in 2010), everyone almost forgot about that other bridge, the one that will connect River Mountain Road to Two Rivers Park on the west side of Interstate 430 and extend Little Rock's riverside trail hiking/biking trail.
The 1,162-foot Two Rivers Bridge will be built by Pulaski County using mostly federal funds. The winning bid for the project came in at $5.3 million and was submitted by Jensen Construction Co., the same contractor that built the Big Dam Bridge.
A contract should be awarded within the next two weeks and construction is expected to take 16 months.
The county will have to come up with a 20 percent match for federal dollars. Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines says the money will come from funds set aside in the road and bridge budget. “Every year we try to set aside some funds so when we've got these opportunities where we need to have a match we can take advantage of that for the community.”
The bridge will allow cyclists and joggers to cross the Little Maumelle River to the network of hiking and biking trails in Two Rivers Park.
Dan Lysk, manager of Arkansas Cycling and Fitness in Sherwood, has been a long-time advocate for the bridge. “It's going to open up a whole new system of trails for riders and actually alleviate some of the congestion that can build up on the River Trail because it's become so popular for riders.”
The bridge will include a 210-foot center span supported by steel trusses and resemble a railroad bridge.
Judicial name dropping
What's up with the delay on filling three vacant federal district judgeships in Arkansas?
Senators have sent three names each for two judgeships in Little Rock and another in South Arkansas, but no nomination has been forthcoming from President Obama.
Perhaps the president is looking for more racial diversity. Until one potential nominee died and was replaced on the South Arkansas judgeship list by a black lawyer, the potential nominees were all white. The NAACP objected.
As a result, local lawyers have begun writing U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln with other nominees. It's unclear whether this has been officially encouraged or not.
One such letter obtained by the Insider recommends Arkie Byrd, a law partner of Richard Mays, a politically influential black lawyer.