Rating:
5 votes

War Eagle Bridge

Photos 

Side view

Photo taken Dec. 2000 and provided by the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department

BH Photo #100120

Map 

Street Views 

Facts 

Overview
Through truss bridge over War Eagle Creek on CR 98
Location
Benton County, Arkansas
Status
Closed pending repairs
History
Built 1907 by the Illinois Steel Bridge Co. of Jacksonville, Illinois; Rehabilitated 2010
Builder
- Illinois Steel Bridge Co. of Jacksonville, Illinois
Design
West approach: Steel stringer span
Main span: Pin-connected, 9-panel Parker through truss
East approach: Three homemade Waddell "A" pony trusses built from scrap metal
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 183.0 ft.
Total length: 304.1 ft.
Deck width: 15.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 10.4 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 19, 1985
Approximate latitude, longitude
+36.26754, -93.94337   (decimal degrees)
36°16'03" N, 93°56'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/415263/4014036 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
War Eagle
Inventory numbers
AHTD 17807 (Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept. bridge number)
NRHP 85003497 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 10228 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 09/2015)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 32.1 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 1987)
118

Update Log 

  • May 7, 2017: Updated by David Backlin: Closed for repairs
  • November 4, 2013: New photos from Larry Dooley
  • October 23, 2011: New photos from Wayne Kizziar
  • January 1, 2011: Posted additional HAER photos
  • December 11, 2010: Updated by Anthony Dillon: Adjusted coordinates
  • September 8, 2010: Updated by David Backlin: Rehabilitated 2010
  • August 12, 2010: New Street View added by Jason Smith
  • April 21, 2009: Updated by Robert Stephenson: NHRP date
  • January 8, 2005: Added AHTD photos

Sources 

Comments 

War Eagle Bridge
Posted May 7, 2017, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Incredible floodwaters around this bridge as shown in that article! Looks like the historic mill may have severe water damage.

This bridge project was bid twice. First time they rejected the bids because they felt the contractors who bid lacked experience restoring historic bridges. So they put it to bid a second time. They then awarded the contract to a contractor who specializes in commercial buildings with a focus on sewage treatment plants. So I am not real sure what the point of the second bid was, nor why the county suddenly decided to let this company expand their portfolio to include their (first?) historic bridge project? http://www.crossland.com/projects

War Eagle Bridge
Posted May 7, 2017, by David Backlin (us71 [at] cox [dot] net)
War Eagle Bridge
Posted December 23, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
War Eagle Bridge
Posted December 13, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
War Eagle Bridge
Posted July 9, 2015, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Another news article included this:

"Jason Sivils, an engineer with Great River, told the justices of the peace that the company has done extensive work on older truss bridges in Missouri, and the work has ranged from historic preservation, which concerned mainly keeping the historic appearance of the bridges, to projects meant to keep the bridges in use."

This certainly isn't the company profile you get from visiting the website. Also, to my knowledge, all the truss bridge preservation work ever done in the entire state of Missouri by all engineering firms combined wouldn't amount to what normal people would call "extensive work." And proper in-kind restoration has never been performed in Missouri.

War Eagle Bridge
Posted July 8, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Nathan,

That was my concern.

Regards,

Art S.

War Eagle Bridge
Posted July 7, 2015, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Art,

They are just doing engineering. As for the company, I only know what I've read online, and what I've seen. They appear to have outstanding experience with picking up the phone and calling Contech Engineered Solutions to have them deliver a MOB or a Conspan.

They also appear to have extensive experience designing new concrete and steel beam bridges, which are usually called UCEBs here on Bridgehunter.

We also know, because they were selected as engineers by the county, that they are a large company able to devote the many man hours that were required to provide the MASSIVE amount of documentation the county required for any applying engineering firm in the RFQ the county had distributed... an RFQ that would price out smaller engineering firms that might not be able to afford to spend 30 hours making a response to an RFQ with no guarantee of a job.

War Eagle Bridge
Posted July 7, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Anyone familiar with the company that is about to get the restoration job?:

http://m.nwaonline.com/news/2015/jul/07/benton-county-expect...

War Eagle Bridge
Posted May 7, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

County officials to decide bridge's fate:

http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article/104791/county-offici...

War Eagle Bridge
Posted May 7, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2015/may/07/nwa-editorial-hist...

NWA editorial: Historic War Eagle Bridge not a 21st century answer

Historic War Eagle Bridge not a 21st century answer

By NWA Democrat-Gazette

Posted: May 7, 2015 at 1 a.m.

Sometimes, the gap between what some people want and what government can provide is simply too wide to bridge.

The War Eagle Bridge has spanned the creek from which it got its name since construction in 1907. Unlike most modern bridges, the one-lane, wood-decked structure in eastern Benton County is a joy to cross on foot, on a motorcycle or in a car. Cruising through the steel truss framework is more than just a link to the other side of the creek. It's a connection to the region's colorful history, residing next to a privately owned mill built in the 1970s on top a foundation where predecessors had operated since the first half of the 1800s. It's a man-made centerpiece of a beautiful valley, known today for its semi-annual crafts fair.

What’s the point?

Benton County government’s mission as it relates to bridges is about safe transportation, not historic preservation.

The bridge is the responsibility of the Benton County Road Department, which is charged with building and maintaining a rural transportation system that can meet the demands of 21st century traffic. When it comes to bridges, county government's mission is not historic preservation. It's about building and maintaining bridges for county residents and visitors who need the assurance of safety in crossing creeks, streams and gullies.

Benton County is in a quandary, though. County judge after county judge has expressed a desire to preserve the old bridge even as they've considered construction of a new bridge to handle today's traffic demands. In 2010, the county spent more than $600,000 to replace the decking and shore up its steel supports. By 2013, however, state inspectors had noted a multitude of problems from serious to rather routine. But the steel landmark has unquestionably seen its better days. Estimates last year put the cost of a full renovation at $1.8 million.

Last January, a construction engineer for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, which is responsible for all bridge inspections in the state, said a rehabilitation is possible, but is it worth it. "No," he said. "It's functionally obsolete."

And now this news: Benton County Judge Bob Clinard said he's struggling to find an engineering firm willing to even evaluate the bridge. Apparently, their reputations mean enough to them they're not willing to risk them on this ailing bridge.

Nobody, including Clinard, supports demolition of this lovely bridge. The question is whether to continue relying on it for modern traffic across War Eagle Creek or to find a new way to cross. Does Benton County focus on functionality and safety or devote its resources to a different mission, one of charm and aesthetics?

From a historic perspective, the bridge must be kept. From a transportation standpoint, there's not a rational argument for devoting a couple of million dollars to shore it up for what would remain an uncertain future capacity.

Every family that's ever lived on a budget has had to make the choice Benton County faces: Do what can be afforded or do what's wanted. For county government, it's got to make financial and safety sense.

Advocates for saving the bridge as the primary crossing of War Eagle Creek want to save the bridge by devoting more tax dollars to it while not changing its aesthetics. Like we said, the gap between the sides on this issue is pretty wide.

The sure decision for Benton County government's mission is to build a new bridge for the long-term future. As long as county leaders don't take any advice from Washington County, that will produce the best transportation outcome.

Preservation of the existing War Eagle Bridge is a dream worth nurturing through private support. The bridge has done its job -- and beyond -- for the people of Benton County. Those who want to ensure the War Eagle Bridge remains a decorative centerpiece of its valley need to marshal the resources to do that. Benton County government should work cooperatively to smooth the transition, but its mission cannot become taxpayer-supported devotion to a bridge that's inadequate to the county's needs.

Ultimately, the War Eagle Bridge built in 1907 is no match for the transportation demands of 2015 and beyond. That's where Benton County's priorities must remain, as unromantic as that perspective seems.

Commentary on 05/07/2015

War Eagle Bridge
Posted February 23, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
War Eagle Bridge
Posted February 12, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Sounds like the bridge has lots of local support! Hopefully this will lead to good news for the bridge:

http://www.thv11.com/story/news/2015/02/08/benton-county-res...

War Eagle Bridge
Posted January 25, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

This is something that is starting to sound ominous to me:

http://www.ktbs.com/story/27936720/options-sought-for-replac...

War Eagle Bridge
Posted January 16, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
War Eagle Bridge
Posted January 16, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Matt,

I hope you are right, but when I read it, it seemed like much less of a sure thing, just a possible option. My concern is that the county just spent $650K three years ago and the fix was supposed to last 50 years. Now, just three years later, they are being told that the bridge has $1.8M worth of problems. That may cause a very strong negative reaction! Hopefully someone like Nels can go down and fix the bridge for a fraction of the quote.

Regards,

Art S.

War Eagle Bridge
Posted January 15, 2015, by Matt Lohry

Art,

All is not lost though... It is being replaced, but preserved for pedestrian use, according to the first paragraph of the article! :)

War Eagle Bridge
Posted January 15, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Here we go again!:

Benton County to replace historic bridge

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2015/jan/15/benton-county...

War Eagle Bridge
Posted October 30, 2013, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Article with video regarding upcoming bridge repairs:

http://5newsonline.com/2013/10/30/war-eagle-bridge-repairs-p...

War Eagle Bridge
Posted December 11, 2010, by David Backlin (us71 [at] cox [dot] net)

The bridge was closed to all traffic during reconstruction, but has since reopened (as of October 2010).

War Eagle Bridge
Posted June 5, 2010, by Sherry Taylor (Gsherryt [at] aol [dot] com)

I understand the bridge is going to undergo reconstruction. Will there still be a way across the bridge, is it going to be done in stages so that traffic and pedestrians can still get across?