University Street bridge project nears completion

The bridge to nowhere is soon to be the bridge to somewhere once again.

According to Randy Atkinson, Siloam Springs’ public services director, the University Street bridge will be completed by the middle of October.

Construction on the University Bridge, in downtown Siloam Springs, began July 1, 2012. The previous bridge was dilapidated and in need of replacing.

Atkinson has been working directly with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department on this project.

This is a State Highway project with the city of Siloam Springs contributing 20 percent of the total cost.

“The total cost of the project is $1.264 million dollars, costing the city $640,384.20,” said Atkinson.

“It is not a cheap process to entirely demolish a bridge and build a completely new one,” said Madison Stewart, Siloam Springs’ public services director’s office manager.

As standard procedure for a large-scale project, potential contractors placed bids and the city selected the lowest bid. Manhattan Road & Bridge Company was chosen to build the bridge.

“It affects me every day, getting to and from work,” said Edith Dodson, senior broadcasting major.

Dodson feels that the uncompleted bridge has essentially been driving business away from downtown, therefore creating hesitance among residents to shop locally and pushing people to navigate through Siloam Springs using Highway 412.

“Taking back roads can keep you away from heavier traffic,” said Dodson. “But I would rather not have to weave in and out of downtown just to get to Wal-Mart.”

Caroline Finney, Springdale resident, said she feels the bridge is just a first world problem, but some consider the blockage to be negligence.

“I drive to work from Springdale every day and avoid going through downtown,” said Finney.

The contractor tells Atkinson that it will be done on time.

City of Siloam Springs’ will relay the brick pavement on the sidewalk after completion.