Until 1940, when a bridge was constructed across the Mississippi River, ferries and steamboats facilitated communication between the southeastern corner of Arkansas and Mississippi. Also designed by the Kansas City firm HNTB, the first bridge was a steel through truss structure. Driving on the bridge was perilous, for it was only two lanes wide, with no shoulders, and because it spanned a large bend in the Mississippi, it was repeatedly hit by barges as they attempted to make the river’s sharp curve. This new bridge with its 2.5-mile span was the fourth longest cable-stayed bridge in North America when it opened. The bridge has a four-lane deck, and with approaches and new roadway it totals 3.84 miles in length. Its cable-stayed design is the optimum bridge type for a span of this length for wind, vibration, and seismic activity. The two H-shaped concrete towers that carry the prestressed steel cables soar 425 feet above the Mississippi River, and the concrete piers are anchored 120 feet into the riverbed. While the combination of piers, cables, and span of a cable-stayed bridge are inherently elegant and visually dramatic, this white beauty also stands out in its lush green surroundings as a true landmark.
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