In September the Pulaski County Judge and mayors of Little Rock and North Little Rock signed a letter of agreement on the new Broadway Bridge. The letter said the bridge should reflect the history and future of the area.
Responses to Metroplan’s survey on a new bridge showed respondents wanted more than a functional span, one that could be identified with its location.
On Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the meeting of the Metroplan board of directors, Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines posed combining the past, present and future in the bridge, dubbing it "America’s Bridge."
Why have just a bridge when you can have an icon, instead, Villines asked.
In his proposal, the bridge would be painted red, white and blue. With the addition of LEDs, the bridge could give the impression of fireworks, or a flag fluttering in the wind, Villines said.
The bridge could be used to memorialize Arkansas’ more than 3,500 killed in action, and its Medal of Honor winners, Villines said. While finding a way to inscribe 3,500 names on the bridge, the Medal of Honor winners would certainly be found space, he said.
The memorial would be, "To those who fought for freedom and those who worked for peace," Villines said.
As America’s Bridge, it would have the potential to become an icon, a symbol of central Arkansas in the same manner as the Golden Gate Bridge is for San Francisco, Villines said. "Something that when you see it, you know where you are."
The changes would add nothing to the cost, and he is willing to pursue idea alone, if need be, Villines said.
The Board of Directors voted to endorse the concept.
In the September letter to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, Villines, along with Little Rock mayor Mark Stodola and North Little Rock mayor Patrick Hays, agreed on a twin-inclined arch bridge to replace the current Broadway Bridge.
"The use of an arch truss has historically provided an important function in bridge construction," Villines wrote.
The letter continues that the Broadway Bridge has and should both reflect the history and future of the community.
"We have talked about the significance of the six bridges across the river," reads the letter. "We even refer to the downtown urban area as the Six Bridges District. Four of those bridges utilize an arch truss, as a key part of their structure. Indeed, the first bridge dedicated to automobile traffic, the Pulaski County Free Bridge, was an arch truss bridge."
The letter adds, "Finally, and significantly, by working together with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, the bridge can be built without a local tax increase."
This article used information from a Times (North Little Rock) article by Greg Rayburn.