The Arkansas Highway Department has announced that the Broadway Bridge will reopen to traffic next week, about a month earlier than expected thanks in part to an unseasonably mild winter.

The precise time is not set, but it will produce a big bonus for Massman Construction, contractor on the project — $80,000 per day for each day cut off the 180-day work period. Said a release:


Work on the structure has progressed so well throughout the unseasonably warm winter months that the opening will occur almost a full month ahead of the 180-day schedule Massman included in its $98.4 million bid to replace the river crossing.

Although an exact time of the opening is unknown at this time, the AHTD has scheduled a ceremonial first crossing media event that will take place on Monday, February 27 at 3:30 p.m. Among the dignitaries included in the procession of vehicles are members of the Arkansas Highway Commission, AHTD Director of Highways and Transportation Scott Bennett, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

The closure hasn’t been as problematic for traffic as I’d feared, I’d be the first to admit. Rush hours can be a little clogged for river crossing, but motorists have adjusted their driving times and signal light changes have also helped.

Which made me think just this morning: It’s a pretty good illustration of why the first solution for fairly limited congestion on Interstate 30 — a few minutes in morning and afternoon — is a shaky premise for $600 million or more in work to widen the freeway.  Smart motorists already adjust. Example: Surface streets to the airport from downtown.