AHTD to begin major construction on Broadway bridge early 2015

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Pulaski County drivers going from Little Rock to North Little Rock will be crossing over a brand new bridge. But there may be some major headaches before the grand opening.

"You only get a chance once in a hundred years to do something like this," said Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines.

It's a once-in-a-century opportunity to replace a bridge that was dedicated to World War{} I veterans on Christmas Day 1923.

"It has served its purpose," said Randy Ort, of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.{}"It is showing its wear and tear. It's a concrete structure and it needs to be replaced."

The AHTD and Pulaski County will tear down the current bridge and replace it with what architects call a double basket hand tied arch. It'll cost roughly $80 million and will shut down the bridge for about two years.

"Motorists are going to have to get creative, employers are going to have to get creative," said Ort. "Perhaps they can stagger work times. Everybody doesn't have to come to work at the exact same time. So you know, we humans, we adapt. It just takes us a little time."

Judge Villines is hoping to raise an additional $2.5 to 3 million in private funds for aesthetics. Names of fallen soldiers and states will be etched into the structure.

"We want to do something for our veteran and those who've worked so hard for freedom and peace. That people will remember it," he said. "If you're going to have that opportunity, do it right. Do something that's meaningful."

The highway department is hoping to putt off any major{}construction that would close the bridge until early next year.