Skip to Content

Arkansas River Lift Bridge Emergency Repair

Promo Icon 2 Updated

The Arkansas River Lift Bridge carries a single Class III railroad track for the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad (AMRR) over the Arkansas River, connecting Van Buren and Fort Smith, AR. Constructed in 1885, the original construction utilized a swing-span to enable the passage of river traffic. In 1968, as part of a major rehabilitation project, the swing span was locked in place, three existing through truss spans were removed and replaced with a lift span, and the navigation channel was shifted under the lift span. 

In 2014, the two up-haul operating ropes on the Van Buren end of the lift span failed, leaving the lift span lodged in a partially lifted and skewed position between its towers and halting both river and rail traffic.  Modjeski and Masters was retained by AMRR to assist with the emergency response. M&M personnel were immediately dispatched to the bridge to help direct operations to lower the skewed lift span. Limited mechanical and structural inspections were then performed, and repairs were designed for the damaged deflector sheaves and other bridge components. M&M worked closely with the contractor while developing repair details to help expedite fabrication of the new components and provided on-site construction support including assistance with wire rope tensioning which was integral to the successful installation of the new operating ropes. M&M also assisted with coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding the incident and while the river was closed during repairs.

Bridge Geometry
Length of Main Span 356 feet
Total Project Length 2,153 feet
Tracks on Structure 1 track