Good News, Bad News
The low bid, submitted by Massman Construction of Kansas City, came in at $98,400,000.00.
The good news is that the bridge will only be closed for 6 months. The bad news is that the bridge will be closed for 6 months. I haven't seen any official word on a start date, but the general impression is that it will be next spring.
Planning? Not so much.
Having sat in on quite a few meetings of various committees that discuss such things, I think the city governments are very concerned about the impact that the re-routing of the 24,000 cars per day that presently use the bridge will have on local transportation. They're very concerned, but the options are few. For the most part, I believe the traffic plan consists of, "we 'll see how drivers adapt, then go about solving problems." I don't mean that to be critical, as there are a fixed number of options for crossing the river.
It's just going to be a mess.
So, what will we do?
The contractor will be required to present a plan on their requirements for equipment and materials staging along and near the river. At that time, traffic planners will make what refinements that they can, and riders will have a better idea of the impact on bike traffic and the River Trail. The west end of NLR Riverfront Park will be closed, along with that section of the trail. Bike traffic will be directed to Riverfront Rd, which will be carrying much of the commuter traffic served by the Broadway Bridge as drivers head to the Main Street Bridge or to I-30. The Little Rock trail near the bridge will be closed as well, though it crrently sees much less use than its NLR counterpart. Discussions as to how to detour bike traffic in downtown Little Rock have been inconclusive. Ideas to designate on-street routes, perhaps on Clinton Ave/Markham or 3rd Street, have been vetoed due to the fact that those streets will already be carrying a much increased traffic load.
Most recreational riders affected by the trail closures can easily just shift their rides out west and completely avoid any disruption. That's assuming they can get to the trail. For bike commuters, the concentrated traffic flows represent a risk, but will also slow traffic down......likely to a crawl.
It will be interesting to see how things evolve during the bridge construction. It will cause some challenges for riders, but will also create an incentive for many people to think outside of the car. The reward can be an invigorated corps of new bike commuters. In addition to the health and financial benefits of cycling that those riders will enjoy, there are bound to be those moments of riding past a line of snarled traffic while thinking, "I'm glad that's not me."