Another major bridge in Northeast Arkansas had to be shutdown immediately on Tuesday (May 25) after significant damage was discovered by inspectors. The U.S. 63/412 bridge that spans the Spring River at Ravenden was closed around 12:30 p.m., according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
Inspectors found a broken pin and a broken hangar on the bridge, according to ArDOT. Engineer Brad Smithee said they hope to have at least one lane of traffic open on the bridge by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but no timetable for the repairs to be completed was released.
Traffic had to be re-routed to Lawrence County Road 106, a gravel thoroughfare that bypasses most of Ravenden. The route was choked full of cars passing in both directions in the hours following the closure and several locals noted the enormous amount of dust caused by the traffic.
It’s not known if there is any connection between this bridge closure and closure of the Interstate 40 bridge between Memphis and West Memphis. The inspector in charge of the I-40 bridge inspection was fired last week after a significant fracture was found in a primary support beam May 11.
ArDOT officials previously said the unnamed employee, who had worked for the department for at least 15 years, had inspected other bridges in Arkansas, but it wasn’t clear if the U.S. 63/412 bridge at Ravenden was one of them.
This bridge was built in the 1950s. The highway is a primary connector through northern Arkansas connecting Northeast and Northwest Arkansas. Construction crews had been working on or near the bridge before the damage was discovered.
The bridge closure comes at a bad time for tourism-starved businesses in the Ozark foothills. Memorial Day weekend typically draws tens of thousands of tourists from Jonesboro and Memphis to the Spring River, the lakes in Cherokee Village and Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Norfork near Mountain Home.