The demolition project for the Broadway Bridge between Little Rock and North Little Rock began Friday night when a number of loose barges were released on the river and collided with several downtown bridges including the Broadway.
No major damage occurred to the Broadway bridge, although experts tell us the first few rounds should be seen as softening the structure for more strategic barge strikes over the next several months. The deconstruction cost by using barges is expected to be less than 1/4 of the cost of using conventional bridge demolition methods.
“We always knew were were on a tight budget with this bridge,” Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines tells us. “We really want to do what we can to save the taxpayers unnecessary expenses. This way we can demolish the bridge in half the time, for a quarter of the costs, and still be able to pay for my giant screaming eagle to go on top of it.”
Villines hopes to be able to begin work on the new Broadway bridge, to be called the ‘Merica bridge, in early spring 2014.
The inspiration for using barges to demolish the bridge comes from the I-40 bridge collapse in Oklahoma in 2002.
In addition to the Broadway bridge, the I-30 bridge was allowed to receive initial damage to prep for planned deconstruction. The I-30 bridge is scheduled to be replaced or widened in the next 10 years to an 8 lane bridge. Officials tell us that the federal money for that bridge replacement could be accelerated if the bridge was deemed unsafe for travel.
Demolition is expected to take place over the next 3 months. Villines tells us that if the barges fail to fully demolish the bridge he personally will utilize the remaining 3 torpedoes on the USS Razorback to finish the job.