POSTPONED: City to celebrate re-opening of historic Maple and Lafayette bridges

A vehicle passes over the Lafayette Street bridge Monday morning in Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

UPDATE: The ribbon-cutting has been cancelled due to expected inclement weather on Wednesday. City officials said the event would be re-scheduled for a later date.

City officials will celebrate the completion of the historic Maple Street and Lafayette Street bridges rehabilitation project during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 on the northwest sidewalk of the Lafayette Street bridge.

The $1.725 million project included a rehab of the 1930s-era bridges that cross over the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad one block east of the University of Arkansas campus.

The project began nearly a decade ago beginning with community input in 2007, inspections of both bridges in 2009, a feasibility study in 2010, and funding research and attainment in 2011. After two bidding processes that wrapped up in late 2015, work began this spring and was completed in September.

Both structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in order to retain that designation, special work was required to restore the bridges as close as possible to their original form. All plans required approval by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and the state highway department.

Rehab work included removal and replacement of steel bearing pads, construction of a new concrete deck, curb and gutter, sidewalks, and roadway pavement. Crews were able to reuse the original steel railing on the Lafayette Bridge, including a bent section that was straightened. Graffiti and vegetation were also removed.

Using old drawings and photographs, the Saint Louis Antique Lighting Company recreated the period light fixtures to match the originals.

Funding for the project came from $1 million from the federal aid Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program. The remaining $725,000 came from transportation bonds voters approved in 2006.