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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Randy Moll The bridge over Flint Creek suffered damage in the 2017 late-April flood and remains closed until it can be replaced.

GENTRY -- It's now been more than two years since the Dawn Hill East bridge over Flint Creek was closed due to April flood waters which overflowed the bridge and undercut its support structure and many are anxious for the bridge to be reopened, but it will be just a little longer, according to the most recent update given to the council by Gentry's mayor, Kevin Johnston.

Following the April 2017 flood, Johnston had reported that "the debris that washed downstream accumulated under the bridge, causing the water to detour around the north abutment of the bridge, which caused scouring and undermining to the support structures of the bridge."

With the support structures under the bridge undermined, a corner of the bridge settled and caused the pavement to crack and a hole to open up. The bridge was deemed unsafe for vehicular and foot traffic.

On May 6, at the regular council meeting, Johnston told council members the city is still waiting to receive approval and comments from the Arkansas Department of Transportation on the 60 percent plan submitted by the city and its engineers. Johnston confirmed on Monday, the city was still waiting but expected to hear any day. He reported that Garver Engineering had already begun to work on the 90 percent plans for submittal in order to speed up the process.

Once all the city's plans are approved, the project can be put out to bid. Construction can begin once a contract is awarded, which will hopefully be later this year.

At a November 2018 meeting, Johnston reported that current plans involve building the bridge in three spans and making the bridge 2 1/2 feet higher than the old bridge, with it designed to be overflowed in a major flood event. He said an earlier plan would have caused a negative impact on upstream properties and he did not wish to cause any additional flooding risks to other property owners along the creek. He said the new plan would have no negative impact on upstream property owners.

Johnston said the bridge design work is continuing and the bridge would likely be done by the end of October 2019. After plans are finalized, a bid package will be prepared and advertised. Once a contractor is chosen, the building process will begin. He said the bid process (after final plans are approved) would take 75 days and the construction 150 days.

The cost of the bridge was estimated to be about $1 million, with the Federal Highway Administration paying 80 percent of those costs. Without plan approval from ArDOT, the city would be responsible for the full cost of the bridge.

Park Plans

Johnston reported ongoing work on the city's parks master plan. He said current work involves determining the first work which needs to be done and estimating costs to develop the new parklands south of the fire station and west of the Kansas City Southern Railroad. He said street and parking area paving and curbing would be necessary as a first step to developing the new park area where ballfields and soccer fields are being planned.

Water Storage Facility

Johnston said engineering plans for a new water-storage facility along Y-City Road had been prepared and sent to the United States Department of Agriculture office in Harrison for review before they are sent on to Washington D.C. He said the plans are in a 76-page report. Once the city learns of grant funding available, it can pursue other funding options for the remaining cost of constructing the new water tower.

In September 2018, the Gentry council, after a public hearing on the topic, approved a resolution to seek USDA funding to build a new water-storage tower to serve the east side of Gentry's water-service area, including the new Simmons poultry processing plant, now under construction.

The estimated cost of the project will be $11.4 million, according to numbers presented at the meeting. The city will seek both grant funding and loan funding for the project -- 35 percent grant funding and 65 percent loan funding.

The resolution, passed by the unanimous vote of the council, only authorized applying for the funding and did not give final approval of funding.

The proposed water tower would be similar to the large water tower in Siloam Springs, with a cement base and an elevated steel tank which would hold enough water for a two- or three-day supply. According to documents supplied in May 2018 by Jerry Martin, an engineer with Garver engineering and design services, the tank would hold 2.29 million gallons and would be supplied with a pump capable of pumping 3.33 million gallons per day. It would have two discharge lines, one to Simmons and the other to the Y-City Zone. He said the tanks and towers have an estimated service life of 75 to 100 years.

Included in the plans are future water needs for the city, including the Sunset Ridge subdivision and the possibility of another large subdivision in the area which would be served by the storage tower. The water tower could also help supply the existing Gentry water storage tanks currently supplied by a second BWRPWA meter at Springtown and Roy Jech Farm Roads.

Cleanup Event

Johnston told the council that the April 6-7 cleanup in Gentry had been very successful. He said the city collected about 120 yards of trash, six loads of scrap iron, 163 tires and 181 items of electronic waste during the April cleanup event. Johnston said the city would probably have another similar event in the fall.

Recording Public Meetings

Johnston reported that a new state law would soon require the city to record all its public meetings. He said he was beginning to record committee meetings and any other public meetings.

General News on 05/15/2019

Print Headline: Mayor updates council on bridge, water tower and park projects

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