A&M = Arkansas & Missouri, a regular railroad with a tourist operation (system map)
|Screenshot @ -0:59|
|Street View, looking Northwest from US-71 Business|
|Rachel Rodemann, SWtimes1|
[In 2014, both northern cables broke stopping both rail and river traffic.]
The first train crossed the rail bridge at the Arkansas River from Fort Smith to Van Buren late Thursday since the bridge got struck Tuesday.
A crew of about 30 worked all day Thursday after bridge inspectors from a firm in St. Louis examined on Wednesday the damage from two cables that had snapped, tilting the bridge and making it impassable, said railroad Police Chief Ron Sparks with Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.
Crews worked in 20-degree temperatures to get the bridge level for rail traffic. The first train crossed the bridge from Fort Smith to Van Buren about 8:20 p.m., Sparks said.
“We’ll be running trains all night to get the freight caught up,” Sparks said. “There are 12 barges in the river waiting to come through.”
Sparks said he expected river traffic to resume by daylight Friday. Coast Guard officials came up with plans to use towboats on either side of the bridge to push a barge across, or to use towboats with retractable wheelhouses to get under the bridge.
“From then, we’ll be working on that bridge from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day until we get it back up and operational where it will go up and down,” Sparks said. “Saturday, Sunday, whatever it takes we’ll be out there.”
Crews still are unsure what caused the cables to snap.