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story.lead_photo.caption Benton County plans to replace a bridge over Spanker Creek, seen Wednesday, that supports several thousand vehicles each day. - Photo by Flip Putthoff

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County officials said negotiations for rights of way have pushed the start date for work to replace the Spanker Creek Bridge to mid-March.

The county had hoped to close the bridge for a December start. The delay means detours caused by the bridge's closing during construction could last through 2018.

The April 29 flooding forced the county to close the bridge, just north of the McNelly Road intersection, and to do temporary repairs after the floodwater receded. The water washed away the pavement, leaving the concrete structure of the bridge exposed. The county has laid asphalt over the concrete to keep the bridge open until it can be replaced.

Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said the county typically doesn't pay for right of way and the negotiations on obtaining the property needed to replace the old bridge have taken longer than anticipated. Moehring said the county is still working with one property owner who has expressed concerns about drainage work on his property.

Moehring said the new, tentative schedule shows the project being placed for bids early in 2018 and the work to start by mid-March.

Some property owners had other concerns. Renae Dudley, who lives at the corner of Spanker Road and Spanker Ridge Drive, a few hundred yards north of the bridge, said she was concerned about the amount of land the county might take and about a utility easement that could have taken out several large trees in front of her house. She said she resolved those issues with the county and with Carroll Electric.

"I guess I'll know it's starting when the bulldozers show up and the road is closed," she said. "I'm not too concerned about that. I know it needs to be done."

According to Jay Frasier, public services administrator and head of the Road Department, the best estimate is 7,000 vehicles a day use McNelly Road and as much as half of that traffic comes down Spanker Road. Frasier said motorists use the route to get from Bella Vista to Bentonville without driving on U.S. 71 or Interstate 49.

Frasier said the county will post a detour, using Spanker Ridge Drive, which runs east from Spanker Road and loops north and then south through a residential neighborhood before connecting to McNelly Road farther east. He said he hopes some drivers will choose to take Dartmoor Road, Euston Road and other options to ease traffic on the narrow neighborhood streets on Spanker Ridge Drive.

Frasier said the bridge is a 60-foot span on a set of box culverts and is about eight years old. Replacement plans call for a 102-foot bridge and for raising both approaches to the bridge. The $1 million project will be done with a 50-50 match of federal and county money.

NW News on 12/28/2017

Print Headline: County changes Spanker Creek Bridge work plan

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