Vilonia mayor says new bridge ‘big improvement’

By Tammy Keith Originally Published January 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 9, 2013 at 9:11 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Vilonia city engineer Fred Fowlkes, left, and Mayor James Firestone look over the new bridge on North Church Street in Vilonia. The bridge replaced a single-lane bridge that caused traffic-flow issues.

— Mayor James Firestone said the “old, rickety, one-lane bridge” on North Church Street in Vilonia needed to be replaced when he was a kid.

It finally happened in December.

A two-lane concrete bridge now crosses North Fork Cypress Bayou at U.S. 64 and North Church Street.

“It’s just a big improvement,” Firestone said.

He said the former metal bridge had been there as long as he could remember.

“It was in bad shape,” he said. “Every time I saw a school bus drive over it, I’d just cringe.”

The new bridge cost $106,000 and was built by WK Contractors of Vilonia.

“We paid for that out of city funds. We saved our lunch money for a few years,” Firestone said, laughing.

“We still have to do pavement over it,” he said, and that will be done in the spring.

The bridge is usable now, however.

“It will be better,” said Steve Hensley, transportation director for the Vilonia School District. “I never was worried about it falling in. It was just narrow and needed to be replaced.”

He said one school bus, carrying about a dozen students, has to cross the bridge on that route.

Superintendent Frank Mitchell said he’s glad to see the bridge replaced.

“Anytime you go on an old bridge like that, there’s a little bit of a fear factor to it,” Mitchell said. “I think they’ve done a good job from the mayor on down … in improving the city in a lot of ways.”

Firestone said a smaller bridge project was also scheduled to begin this week on North Street, east of North Church Street. WK is the contractor to replace the one-lane wooden bridge with a two-lane concrete box culvert, Firestone said, at a cost of $30,000 “and some change.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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