Faulkner County bridges to be replaced or repaired will number 40 to 50 in the next five years according to Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin.
A bridge was replaced Monday on Mode Road in Guy due to excessive water damage.
Rick Pruett, bridge foreman for the Faulkner County Road Department, said trucks associated with the gas and oil industry were having difficulty passing on the bridge because it was too narrow.
“The bridge had damage and was too small. It’s undergone some excessive water damage as well, having been under water 10 times in a year,” Scroggin said.
This bridge was the first of many to be built this coming summer, Scroggin said.
“We’ll get eight to 10 bridges done this summer, though we’re going to require more funding. We’re going to be obtaining that,” Scroggin said.
Money for the county’s bridge replacement program will come from the 5 percent severance tax enacted by the state to return to counties for road damage associated with the gas and oil industry.
“We think we can get the most mileage out of that state grant program by getting our bridges done,” Scroggin said. “We believe by going in and fixing these areas, we can get people through during major rain as well.”
Scroggin said excessive rain in the summer of 2009 prevented the county from addressing some bridges, like the one on Mode Road, because of flooding.
Though replacements and repairs are called for, according to Scroggin, the bridges are still safe for passage.
“The bridges aren’t unsafe. We’re on a continuous schedule of inspections from the State Highway Department. The inspections are mandated by federal law. They would let us know if there was a problem at this point,” Scroggin said.
The bridge replaced on Monday was funded in equal parts by the Faulkner County Road Department and the City of Guy, with each paying $12,500.
Scroggin said the county partners with cities for road projects, but the county will rely on the severance tax for industry related damages.
“As much as we can, we’ll rely on it for the major bridges. I’m going to use everything at my disposal to get it fixed. If I can’t get the grant money, we’re going to fix it some way. ... We’ll make sure the industry pays for the damages they’ve done. We have different avenues we can use as well like state aid and the process of partnering with the city on projects.”
A larger bridge to be replaced in the coming months will be at Wolf Branch Road just north of Guy.
Scroggin said three different gas and oil companies who occupy roads there will split the cost of the project.
“This is going to happen a lot more. It will be a common practice on bridges and roads,” Scroggin said. “The northern part of the county exploded greatly in these last three months. And all three companies use the same roads and bridges.”
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)