Your million dollar decorations
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) —
Some ride, while others run, on what could be referred to as a mansion over water.
Pulaski County's Two Rivers Bridge totaled just less $6.7 million for construction alone to this pedestrian only bridge.
"About 80%, or approximately $4.6 million, came from federal grants, federal highway departments the state highway department," said Sherman Smith with Pulaski County Road and Bridge. "The remaining 20-percent the county came up with"
The catch is what the majority of that 20-percent was spent for. It wasn't dropped on concrete, steel beams nor site preparation.
You actually won't notice it until the sun goes down. About $1.4 million in county money went towards Vegas-style lighting that lines the bridge.
"There's a cost in that dad gum road, the highways, there's a cost. Any infrastructure has a cost," said Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines.
"So, if you're worried about that you just don't build them. Nobody would be able to get out of their neighborhood."
The latest recreational bridges were the pet projects of Villines., and the Two Rivers Bridge has exceeded his expectations.
"We set aside money every year out of our budget so that when we have opportunities to match funds, we increase the investment in this community that created jobs and every other thing. Worth it, you bet it was," Villines added.
From April to November of this year, more than 700,000 people walked over the Arkansas River on this bridge.
A substantial number of foot traffic, but not even that could rival vehicle traffic if it was a motorist bridge.
"We always are accountable for the public funds so anytime you do a major project that does cost quite a bit more than your regular funding, you always question 'do we want to spend money for this and is it worth it?" Smith said.
Following the property's construction, rather than hire additional workers the county tells us it just absorbed the maintenance positions already intact to also work around the bridge
"We have crews divided into highway maintenance, road, mowing and ditching so we've been using sanitation department a little bit to do some cleaning on the bridge and haul the garbage away," Smith added.
"Road & bridge will help mow and clean-up around the end of the bridges. We've been able to absorb that additional work."
As far as operational costs are concerned, the last two electric bills totaled more than $900. That adds up to an annual average of a little more than $5,700 dollars.
Our visit to the bridge not only saw the sights of recreation, but we heard from the people who use it, saying it's worth every taxpaying dollar.
"The disco lights are kind of interesting, but I think the whole system is one of the best things that ever happened to this state," said Little Rock resident Jacob Wells.
"If I don't think about it, if you hadn't told me what it cost then I probably wouldn't have given it much thought and really enjoyed it, but I do," added Marty Platner from Maumelle.
"There's a lot of value in fixing roadways and that kind of thing, but quality of life is important in economic development. There's no question about that," said Jim Cargill.
Bridges are just like our roadways, they require routine maintenance to keep them to standards.
The Two Rivers Bridge includes a one-year warranty, and the public works department doesn't expect it will have to perform any routine maintenance until about three years.