NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Plans to rebuild a crumbling North Little Rock bridge known as main cut through to avoid a busy railroad track, don’t include a feature some neighbors say is needed.
For more than a year, no one has been allowed on the 14th Street bridge. The nearly hundred year old wooden structure was deemed too unsafe for even foot traffic.
Recently the city was awarded a grant to build a new pedestrian bridge, but neighbors like Richard Tatum II says there also needs to be a bridge for cars.
“I drive that way to go to work. I drive that way to get my kids to school.,” Tatum said. “It’s the easiest route.”
Tatum says without the bridge he’s forced to drive over the tracks, but they’re often blocked by trains.
“We’re kind of at the mercy of the railroad and we have no way of telling till we get down there,” he added.
Other neighbors agree, they’re more often than not stuck taking the long to get to and from their homes.
“Usually if I see a train on the tracks I know I have to go around because I never know if it’s going to be there for 5 minutes or 5 hours,” said Alexander Johnson.
It’s a new normal neighbors don’t want to get used to.
“There’s tons of ways for pedestrians to get around the train tracks, there’s not ways for cars,” Jonhson said.
For the city a smaller scale rebuild is the price of balancing safety and budget. The bridge is frequently used by pedestrians as well as kids walking to a nearby Boys and Girls Club.
That’s leaving Tatum holding out hope that the city will find an alternative, so the trains aren’t blocking his ride home.
“I would hope they would find some sort of way to keep this bridge open,” he said.
The nearly half a million dollars funding for this project is coming from a federal grant that AR Dot allocates to communities.