Pedestrian bridge torn down as part of highway project

A pedestrian bridge across U.S. 79B (University Avenue) that was constructed in 1970 was torn down Sunday as part of work to widen the highway.

Danny Straessle, the assistant public information officer for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, said contractors working on the $6.7 million project removed the bridge as part of their work.

Pine Bluff city officials had looked at the possibility of moving the bridge, which was located in front of the campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, to the Martha Mitchell Expressway at Saracen Landing but Straessle said the structure was not long enough and did not meet ADA requirements.

“We also shopped it to other highway districts but none of their projects could use the bridge so it was just scrapped,” Straessle said.

Straessle said the highway department worked with the university on the project and the school has not requested a replacement for the pedestrian bridge.

The bridge formerly led from the campus to the old Pumphrey Stadium, which was turned into a soccer field when the new Golden Lion Stadium was constructed.

Straessle said contractors were given approval for the 1.6-mile project in December 2012, and the work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014.