Arkansas town concerned about bridge after Baltimore collapse

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — After a bridge collapse in Baltimore, there is concern about the safety of local bridges, including one linking Mississippi and Arkansas on U.S. 49.

“As shocking as it was to so many to see that Baltimore bridge collapse, it’s also a reminder for those living in smaller communities, like here in Helena-West Helena, just how crucial the bridge is to this city,” said Kiara Goldsberry, Helena West Helena resident.

Here in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, a city with a population around 9,000 people, ARDOT records show 3,700 vehicles cross the US-49 bridge at Helena every day. It connects the city to Mississippi.

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“We use that bridge a lot, traveling to Tennessee, Mississippi, different places and without that bridge it would kinda make it harder on us because we would have to go other routes,” Goldberry said. “For one, a lot of people work out of town so they use that bridge to get to work, people use it to commute to work, people use it to shop.”

Dave Parker, with Arkansas Department of Transportation, said Arkansas bridges are either designed or have protective measures and devices in places to protect them, should they be hit by something.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Transportation also said, “The vessel that collided with and collapsed Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge is considerably larger than vessels that use Arkansas’ navigable waterways.”

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