Saline County announced a request for bids for the restoration of the Old River Bridge. The deadline to submit a bids is 2:00 p.m. Central, on Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
A mandatory Pre-Bid Conference will be held at 9:00 a.m. Central on August 17, 2023, at 5555 Cynamide Rd. Benton, AR 72015. Read more below 👇🏻 about the history and future of this project.
There are 2 separate bids:
- BID #2023-08-03FHWA: Click for FHWA Bid Advertisement
- BID #2023-08-30EDA: Click for EDA Bid Advertisement
More about the history and future of this project:
MySaline has been updating the public occasionally as the Southwest Trail project progresses. This bridge is part of the future walk/run/bike trail that will extend from Hot Springs to Little Rock, spanning three counties – Garland, Saline and Pulaski.
The bridge is currently taken down from its home at the South end of River Street in Benton. It will be the focal point at Saline Crossing, the park at that location. Use this link to see a current map of the Southwest Trail’s path: www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=edefc38aa25545ff89f155b52d8b5ac5. Note that the path is subject to change.
The general public may have never seen this bridge, since it hasn’t been accessible for decades by city streets. However, many may recognize the bridge as being featured in the Billy Bob Thornton film, “Sling Blade,” as shown near the end of this movie clip below. The bridge is on the National Historic Register.
Saline Crossing, Inc. obtained its 501(c)(3) status and grew and worked hard to get the bridge and recreation area clean, including removing brush and a lot of litter, and installing a picnic area. Saline County Judge Jeff Arey took notice of their mission and worked together with the group to apply for a grant to restore the bridge. When restored, it would become part of a plan to build a walking and biking trail from Hot Springs to Little Rock.
Long before this group got organized, I stood outside the Royal Theatre in October of 2006. A political forum event had just finished and I was introduced to Lynn Moore. Moore had been Mayor of Benton before and was running again. The Moore family has a long history in Benton and Lynn had known the old bridge in working order. He didn’t win the election that year, but he did press forward on a subject we talked about in front of the Royal that evening – utilizing the vast natural resource running right through Benton – the Saline River.
The Saline Crossing, Inc. organization formed in 2008, as their mission statement reads: “To establish a process to preserve the Old River Bridge, circa 1891 on the Saline River and establish a significant and fitting public access to William S. Lockhart’s historical first pioneer settlement of Saline County, at Saline Crossing.”
Local furniture store owner, Bill White, donated five acres of adjoining land to the project so that Saline Crossing includes property on both sides of the river, including the placement of the Old River Bridge as well as the original Saline Crossing village location.
In May 2015, the organization held a bicentennial celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the settlement of Saline Crossing back in 1815.
MySaline’s Previous Articles on the future Southwest Trail: