Crawford County will be receiving state funding to mitigate flooding on one of its low-water bridges.
Officials with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management last week announced they will give Crawford County a $150,000 matching hazard mitigation grant to rebuild a bridge on Old 81 Loop over East Cedar Creek. The grant will cover just under half of the $320,000 needed to rebuild the bridge, said Brad Thomas, emergency management director of Crawford County.
The bridge on Old 81 Loop is one of at least 12 bridges in the county that consistently floods during heavy downpours, Thomas said.
“You hear the saying ‘one day at a time’? Well, this is one bridge at a time,” Thomas said.
Crawford County in 2018 has received 42.8 inches of rain, including 11.21 inches in August, according to county records. The total for the calendar year includes a week and a half of near-constant downpours at the end of February and an EF-2 tornado in April that tore through the Mountainburg area.
In light of the tendency for bridges in the county to flood, Thomas said he is grateful for gaps in the storms. He said Crawford County has been “lucky” when it comes to floods this year.
“If 11.2 inches had been over two days, we would have been in trouble,” he said.
Thomas said Crawford County officials had applied for the grant to rebuild the bridge on Old 81 Loop before, but were turned down by Arkansas Department of Emergency Management officials. He said they argued the area it is in, north of Rudy and west of Mountainburg, was too rural.
“Mountainburg and Alma school districts cross that low-water bridge, so I went out there at the suggestion of the county judge and took pictures of them crossing the bridge, and it seemed to help,” Thomas said. “We were able to get the grant.”
Now that they have secured the grant, Crawford County officials will focus on building the bridge, Thomas said. And once the bridge is rebuilt, they’ll assess what the next need for flood mitigation is and try to secure another grant.
“There are factors that go into getting a grant — traffic, is it a school bus route, that type of situation,” he said.
Thomas said he and other Crawford County officials have been applying for mitigation grants in reference to the flooding prior to the one they have just secured. He also said County Judge Dennis Gilstrap is aware of the flooding on the bridges.
“We know which bridges and which roads give us problems, and eventually, we’re going to get there,” he said.