x

Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

County Contemplates Closing Historic War Eagle Bridge

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) – The War Eagle Bridge is considered one of the most historic bridges in Arkansas. The state says the bridge is in bad shape, and now...

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) - The War Eagle Bridge is considered one of the most historic bridges in Arkansas.

The state says the bridge is in bad shape, and now the county faces having to close it, because the State Highway Department says the iconic bridge is in need of significant repairs.

Every year, for the past three years, the county has been warned of faults in the bridge.

Now, County Judge Bob Clinard says a decision has to be made.

He says there are two options. Either routinely repair the current bridge, or close the bridge to traffic and build a new one somewhere else.

The War Eagle Bridge has been open for more than 100 years.

Clinard says a newer, bigger, and better bridge could last for another 100 years on its own.

"People travel from miles around this country, just to come see this bridge," said Wesley Behner, an employee at the War Eagle Bridge Mill.

"We use this bridge on a daily basis," Behner said. "Without this bridge here, our business wouldn't be so good. We wouldn't be able to access the demands of our customers.”

Right now, traffic on the bridge is limited to passenger cars and small trucks only.

The county says they need to make a decision whether to keep the bridge, or build a new one that can handle large trucks and buses.

Therefore, they are in the process of hiring an engineer to determine the repair costs.

Clinard says he is torn on which route to take.

But, he is prepared to cross that bridge when the time comes.

Clinard tells 5NEWS repairs to the historic bridge would be funded by the county.

However, if elected to build a new bridge the Federal Government, and state, would help pay for construction.