Investigation Surrounding Two Washington County Bridges

ARKANSAS– Washington County officials are pushing Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, to conduct an investigation involving two bridges that have been found to be structurally deficient.

“How far back this problem goes, is an unknown right now,” Washington County Justice of the Peace, Eva Madison, said.

It’s a concern brought forth in October 2013, surrounding two Washington County Bridges, the Harvey Dowell Bridge between Elkins and Fayetteville and the Stonewall Bridge in Prairie Grove.

As Justice of the Peace, Eva Madison explains, action only began last month after a video provided evidence of the Stonewall bridge not being built to engineering plans.

“We gotta figure out why there was a problem and why something wasn’t done sooner. You want to build a bridge to last for years, because it’s an expensive cost,” Madison said.

Last week, Madison requested an investigation be launched by Arkansas Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, a request followed by others with the county.

“I think her office can ensure that we look at everything, the public trust issues, the expenditure of tax dollars issues as well as the public safety issues,” Madison said.

Washington County Judge, Marilyn Edwards, ordered Stonewall Bridge to be demolished after seeing shocking video. Now, County Attorney, Steve Zega, says the road department is working to rebuild it forcing drivers to take an alternate route.

“The people on that part of the county depend on that road being operational. We have an independent contracting firm who is watching us do it.” Zega said.

But while the Harvey Dowell Bridge still stands, only traffic under three tons can utilize the pathway.

“It’s the school buses and the fire trucks and the chicken trucks and all those that are routine in rural Washington County that are not able to go over that bridge now. Is the bridge really fulfilling the purpose it was built for if the school bus can’t go over it?” Madison said.

“They need to know how their tax dollars are being spent and whether they were misspent, and if they were misspent, what we as a county can do to restore that trust with the public,” Madison said.

If the investigation is not approved by Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, Washington County Prosecuting Attorney, Matt Durrett, will be faced with the decision to conduct an investigation alongside county law enforcement.

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