Resilient Steel Bridge Refuses to Come Down

Screenshot from KATV’s video showing the bridge finally crashing into the Arkansas River. 

After 93 years, the Broadway Bridge in Little Rock, Ark., was scheduled to come down and be replaced. But it wouldn’t go quietly. The bridge’s arch design, rated as structurally deficient, proved to be more resilient than originally expected.

Pre-cutting the structural steel members to weaken them and using explosive charges to finish severing the weaken members worked just as the engineer planned. The problem was that the members fell into each other, and the self weight of the bridge kept it standing. Massman Construction, the contractor in charge of the demolition and construction of the new bridge, had to think quickly to avoid time delay penalties. The solution to pull the bridge into the river by barges also proved to be difficult. It took the contactor three attempts before the bridge was willing to fall. 

With the existing bridge demolished, the contractor is now able to continue work on the new double basket handle tied arch bridge. The $98 million bridge is being fabricated by Veritas Steel (an AISC/NSBA member) and constructed in pieces, then loaded onto a barge to be floated to the construction site and lifted into place. This construction method allows for the shortest closure time of Broadway Street. The project is expected to be completed within six months.

Click here to watch KATV's coverage of the existing steel arch demolition.