Arkansas Bridge Closed For Maintenance After Viral Video Shows It Sagging

Historic suspension bridge over the White River is a historical landmark. Located in Beaver, Arkansas just Northwest of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Bonita R. Cheshier / Shutterstock

A bridge that is something of a local landmark in northwest Arkansas has officially been closed for maintenance. While the local community had been crying out for years to repair the bridge that is affectionately called the “Golden Gate of Arkansas,” it took a viral video of a 35-ton bus driving over the 10-ton limit bridge to get the point across to state officials, according to reports from MyArkLaMiss.

The official call came from the Arkansas Department of Transportation, who made the call to close what is officially called State Highway 187 Bridge in Beaver, Arkansas, until it can conduct further inspections.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation was prompted to close the bridge upon the completion of an original inspection conducted by the department’s structural engineers into the bridge as part of the special investigation following the emergence of the video. The bridge will remain closed until this current process of inspection is finished and the proper maintenance can be completed.

Regular maintenance procedures had kept the bridge closed for most of October, but as the video illustrated, more structural improvements are likely required if the bridge will ever be fit for vehicles again.

A reporter from Ozarks First spoke with local residents of Beaver, Arkansas, to get their opinion on the state’s “Golden Gate.”

Resident Buzz Peine described both the beauty and danger of the bridge when he said, “I moved here and took one look at that bridge and I said that is mighty fine… It’s like a wave when people cross.”

While the bridge is clearly marked that it can only carry 10 tons, the fact that it technically lies on a state highway makes the appearance of a wooden, one-way bridge something of a surreal part of the everyday lives of residents, who say incidents on the bridge happen regularly.

Danny Straessle of the Arkansas Department of Transportation spoke about the work that went into maintaining the bridge, which had just been done the week before the viral video was filmed, saying, “Fortunately, we had a bridge crew in place doing some regular maintenance work on this bridge, so they were there last week. They remain up there just doing regular routine maintenance like replacing the wood planks that comprise the bridge deck over there.”

While the bridge has been up to inspection since it was built nearly 70 years ago, the regularity of drivers who have ignored the weight warnings may have driven the bridge to its breaking point.