Federal Judge James Moody Jr. Monday refused a temporary restraining order to stop the process of tearing down the old U.S. Highway 79 bridge at Clarendon in a suit brought by the city of Clarendon and a group hoping to preserve the bridge as a biking path.
The outcome was inevitable, despite long lobbying efforts to preserve the span that included a trip to Washington by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Heritage Department Director Stacy Hurst. The state had entered an ironclad agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the span as part of an agreement on construction of a new Highway 79 bridge that does not disturb natural water flow through the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, as portions of the old bridge do.
An additional likely roadblock to preservation of the bridge was money to continue maintenance of the old structure should it be preserved.
Absent an unseen miracle, the Highway Department likely will soon restart the bidding process for demolition.
There’s another story yet to be told, the delay in opening of the new structure. Stay tuned.