A clean-up effort by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department just across the Pike County line in Nevada County accidentally caused superficial fire damage to the Little Missouri River relief bridge on Highway 19 South, according to Steve Frisbee, district engineer with the ATHD.
The ATHD was working with the Arkansas Forestry Service to clean up the massive amount of flood debris the river had gathered under and around the bridges on Highway 19 South. Frisbee said debris piles were being burned away from the bridge when for an unknown reason the fire got under the bridge Wednesday evening where more debris caught fire.
The bridge, which was built in 1991, was closed for a brief time Wednesday but is now open again. Frisbee said the bridge sustained minor damage underneath but does not currently pose any travel issues.
“The bridge is safe,” Frisbee said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”
As a safety precaution, the bridge’s maximum load restriction has been temporarily reduced from from 80,000 pounds to 70,000 or 35 tons.
Frisbee said a plan is still being developed to do the minor repairs on the bridge, but does not anticipate at this time that the bridge will need to be closed for the repairs. The needed work will be done from underneath the bridge and may result in the bridge being reduced to one lane while the work is done.
There is currently no timeframe for the work.
“It’s not urgent,” Frisbee added.