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story.lead_photo.caption A towboat prepares to pull Arkhola Sand & Gravel’s dredge barge from Lock and Dam 13 at Barling after one of four spuds that are lowered into the river to anchor the barge, standing askew at right, struck the underside of the Arkansas 59 bridge Thursday morning. The bridge was closed to traffic for about two hours and was reopened after Arkansas Department of Transportation engineers inspected the bridge.

BARLING -- The Arkansas 59 bridge over the Arkansas River was closed for about two hours Thursday when part of a dredge passing through Lock and Dam 13 struck the bridge and became wedged against some of its beams.

The Arkhola Sand & Gravel dredge was passing westbound through the lock about 8:30 a.m. when one of four spuds caught on beams under the deck of the bridge that runs over the lock and became wedged, Arkansas Department of Transportation spokesman Danny Straessle said.

Spuds are long stakes at the corners of the dredge that are lowered into the water to the bottom of the river to anchor the dredge in place. The spuds are raised when the dredge is moving.

Straessle said one of the stakes was raised higher than it should have been and caught on the beams.

Police stopped traffic from crossing the bridge while the spud was dislodged. Engineers from the Transportation Department's district engineer's office at Chaffee Crossing in Barling inspected the bridge.

Engineers climbed atop the dredge and used binoculars to get a good look at the beams while checking for damage, said Travis Cooper with the Sebastian County Emergency Management and Public Safety.

Straessle said the engineers found only cosmetic damage to three of the beams.

Highway traffic was allowed back on the bridge about 10:30 a.m. as the dredge was towed west upstream. The only damage to the dredge appeared to be one spud on the left rear that was at a slight slant.

A woman who answered the phone Thursday at Arkhola Sand & Gravel's office in Fort Smith said the company declined to comment about the incident.

No river traffic was held up because of incident, Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District spokesman Laurie Driver said.

State Desk on 07/20/2018

Print Headline: Dredge piece hits, closes bridge; Highway engineers reopen Arkansas 59 span after 2 hours

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