LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — 10:00 AM - that's the time the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will shut down the Broadway Bridge to traffic on Wednesday, in order to allow construction crews to begin the next phase in bridge construction - placing the new Broadway Bridge where the old one will eventually have once stood.
Dozens of people from around central Arkansas ignored AHTD sidewalk closure signs on Tuesday night, to take one final walk across the 93 year-old structure. Most were taking pictures, video, even selfies on the bridge.
Eddy Bowman said he remembers riding his bicycle across the Broadway Bridge as a child. Bowman drove from Bryant to North Little Rock to experience some last minute nostalgia with his girlfriend, both surprised that they were not alone.
"There's a lot of people up here, I suppose to do the same thing we're doing," said Bowman. "It's going to be kind of sad to see it go."
Detour signs were put in place earlier in the week, but finally unveiled on Tuesday to direct traffic away from the Broadway Bridge. The detour AHTD has set up through downtown Little Rock is historically ironic - the plan to direct cars across the Main Street Bridge.
Danny Straessle, spokesperson for AHTD, said back in the day the Main Street Bridge was the only river crossing for vehicles. When it was decided that the old steel Main Street Bridge needed to be replaced, officials then deciding another bridge was necessary to accommodate traffic while Main Street was torn down.
"They knew it had to be replaced and so in doing so they decided to build the Broadway Bridge first," said Straessle.
A decommission ceremony for the bridge is planned for Wednesday morning, and then it's quick to work for the contractor to break-up the asphalt and concrete surface of the before Straessle said the contractor can "pop it and drop it," referring to the eventual explosion of the bridge structure.
Straessle said the main arch of the Broadway Bridge will be blown up first, wrapping explosives on primary structural parts of the bridge to bring it down into the water. The contractor will have 24 hours to retrieve the metal from the Arkansas River, according to Straessle. River traffic will partially be impeded by the main arch removal - the concrete portion of the bridge will be blown up on a later date.
Highway department officials expect the bridge to be completely down hopefully by the end of October, but they have not received an accurate timeline from contractor on the main bridge explosion. Straessle said he the contractor will notify AHTD to be able to notify the public just 24 hours before they plan to explode the main arch. The public will be allowed to view the explosion, but not from the Main Street Bridge. Straessle said there is a blast zone that people will not be allowed inside.
Bowman hopes he can attend the decommissioning ceremony on Wednesday and see the old bridge come tumbling down.
"It's going to be a sad day," said Bowman. "I guess progress is inevitable."
AHTD said barricades blocking vehicle traffic on the Broadway Bridge will be up by noontime on Wednesday, reminding people to find another route for their afternoon commute.