The State of Arkansas has a couple of historic bridges that it’s willing to give away.

Arkansas Department of Transportation officials have released a request for letters of interest from parties who may want to acquire either of the bridges on U.S. 278 in Howard County, including one that spans the Cossatot River.

Both bridges are scheduled for replacement but according to ARDOT, there’s a hitch.

The Cossatot and Baker Creek Bridges have been determined eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act says that “any state which proposes to demolish a historic bridge for a replacement project … shall first make the bridge available for donation to a state, locality, or responsible private entity…”

John Fleming, head of ARDOT’s Environmental Division, said in the letter that the state is offering to donate the bridges to any government or entity that demonstrates a willingness to accept title for, maintain in place, preserve the historic features of, and assume the financial responsibility for the continued maintenance on the structures.

ARDOT, through the Federal Highway Administration, can reimburse costs associated with preservation up to the demolition estimate expense for bridges preserved in place. The demolition estimated reimbursement will be determined by the FHWA, not to exceed 100 of the costs of demolition of the bridges, which will be based on the estimate of ARDOT.

The 2019 demolition estimate for the Cossatot Bridge is $300,000 and $60,000 for the Baker Creek Bridge.

The costs associated with preservation could include rehabilitation of the bridge or minor modifications for recreational use.

The Cossatot River Bridge was determined eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer’s (SHPO) staff in 2018.

The bridge is of steel girder design with a pin and hanger connection system resting on hammerhead piers with round concrete columns, and steel posts and railing edge the roadway. It measures 950 feet long and 21 feet wide. Built as an exceptionally tall bridge, it accommodates a 50-year flood event.

Measures for national flood control began in the early 20th century and became more urgent following the Great Flood of 1927. In the Flood Control Act of 1958, Congress authorized the Gillham Dam and Reservoir project that required relocation of two Howard County roads and two new bridges: the Cossatot River Bridge and the Baker Creek Bridge.

The Cossatot Bridge holds local significance for its mid-century distinctive engineering practice of using the pin and hanger connection system for suspended and cantilever steel girder spans, as well as it association with congressional-authorized flood control measures creating the Gillham Dam and Reservoir.

The Baker Creek Bridge consists of three continuous steel girder spans resting on concrete circular shaft column bents, and includes steel posts and railing edging the roadway. The bridge measures 186 feet long and 21 feet wide.

Interested parties may contact Nikki Senn at 501-569-2979.

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