Historic downtown bridge renovation moves into design phase

Traffic flows Friday over the historic Lafayette Street Bridge near the site of a vehicular impact that damaged a portion of the north side of the bridge nearly a decade ago.

The City Council is expected to soon sign off on a design contract for renovation of two historic bridges in downtown Fayetteville.

The bridges, on Lafayette and Maple streets, cross over the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad tracks and connect West and Arkansas avenues.

From bent and rusted railings to chipped concrete and broken lights, the 1930s-era bridges – while still structurally sound – are in need of a complete cosmetic overhaul.

Talk of repairs has circulated for years, but it wasn’t until about 18 months ago that the project began to take shape.

Council members expedited renovation plans in July 2011 by approving the use of up to $1 million in 80-20 matching federal money to put toward the estimated $1.4 million project. It was decided that the remaining cost would be paid through the Transportation Improvement Bond Program voters approved in 2006.

Since that time, city planning staff have been negotiating design contract details with state officials and engineering consultants.

The result is a $279,000 contract with McClelland Consulting Engineers of Fayetteville. By utilizing federal-aid Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program funds, the city’s portion of design fees is about $56,000.

Street Committee members last week forwarded the plan to the City Council for consideration at its next meeting on Feb. 19.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Ward 2 alderman and Street Committee chair Matthew Petty last week.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan agreed. “It seems like we’ve been working on this forever,” said Jordan. “This is a really great moment.”

Each bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In order to retain that designation, special rehabilitation work is required to restore the bridges as close as possible to their original form.

Contract details indicate McClelland will work with Missouri-based Horner & Shifrin, Inc. to replace overlays, deck drains, light fixtures and damaged sections of rail using the original bridge plans.

City engineer Chris Brown said design work would likely be complete in time to begin construction early next year.

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