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BENTONVILLE -- Restoration work on the historic War Eagle Bridge will likely finish ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline, Benton County officials said.

"It's coming in on time and under budget," said Benton County Judge Barry Moehring. "Those are some of our favorite words around here."

Johnice Cross, general manager of War Eagle Mill, is glad to hear the bridge will open soon. The closed bridge has hurt business and made life a bit more difficult for those who live or work in the area, she said.

"It's about 30 minutes to drive around, unless you go through Gar Hollow. That takes about 10 minutes off, but it tends to flood down there too. We're looking forward to it opening," Cross said.

The mill has produced ads notifying people about the bridge and even created a $5 coupon for customers who were unaware of the closing to encourage them to take the drive around and shop, Cross said.

Cross hopes the bridge will be open in advance of the annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival, set for Sept. 20-23.

"They love to come to the mill, and we love to have them," she said. "I know they're doing everything they can to accommodate that. We're just keeping our fingers crossed. We're off some for the year. We just miss that traffic. Some people just won't drive all that way around."

The county has restricted traffic on the bridge since 2013 by lowering the weight limit to 3 tons. The county spent about $640,000 on repairs to the bridge in 2010, but state inspectors found critical deficiencies during an inspection in 2013.

The county hired Great River Engineering of Springfield, Mo., to inspect the bridge, then do design work to restore the bridge. The firm developed a three-tiered approach with each step including more repairs.

The bridge was closed the week of May 8. The county awarded the contract to repair the 109-year-old bridge to Crossland Heavy Construction. The contract included a final completion date of Sept. 30. Moehring said the county will take any money saved on the project and use it for signs, traffic control measures and other safety-related needs.

Metro on 09/11/2017

Print Headline: War Eagle Bridge work nearly finished

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