Commercial traffic on a portion of the Arkansas River remained blocked Wednesday afternoon as crews continued to recover five of seven significant pieces of the Broadway Bridge's steel arch.
The channel had been set to reopen earlier in the day, but Tuesday's delay in the span's collapse and unexpected factors in its fall caused crews to go past the scheduled 24-hour period for debris removal, said Danny Straessle, spokesman for the state Highway and Transportation Department.
Straessle said the channel is set to reopen by sometime Thursday, adding that a definitive time frame has not been set.
"The contractor is making sure that safety is first and that they are doing it the right way," he said, calling it a "very complicated operation."
The five remaining significant pieces of the arch will be hooked to cables, hoisted by a crane and removed from the river once divers determine that they are completely severed from other portions, according to the highway department.
Straessle said the murky nature of the 30-foot deep channel and the structure falling on it side have complicated the extraction process.
Meanwhile, crews are also preparing for the next phase of the bridge's demolition, readying explosives before detonating three concrete arches. Straessle said that controlled collapse could occur as soon as Friday.
Check back with Arkansas Online for updates on this story and read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.
Crews are still extracting pieces of the collapsed Broadway Bridge from the Arkansas River even though commercial traffic was scheduled to resume on the waterway at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the channel needed to be cleared of debris within 24 hours of detonation, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported. Because the span did not fall into the waterway until 2:49 p.m. Tuesday, nearly five hours after the detonation, it is unclear if that deadline is adjusted, said Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department spokesman Danny Straessle.
Workers had gotten the largest section of the bridge out of the water by 9 a.m. and have another piece "on the hook," Straessle said around 10 a.m.
There are no penalties for missing the deadline written into the contract with the state of Arkansas, Straessle said.
However, the project must be completed in 180 days, per the $98.4 million contract awarded to the subcontractor in charge of replacing the bridge, Massman Construction Co., the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.
A spokesman for the Coast Guard's Lower Mississippi Sector, Ryan Hampton, was unable to provide an estimate for when the river would be cleared. Crews are expected to work throughout the day and possibly throughout the night, Hampton said.
IN TODAY'S DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
http://www.arkansas…">PHOTOS/VIDEO: Broadway Bridge falls ... after a bit