Tastelessness in Little Rock — a tacky bridge

What a contrast:

On “60 Minutes” last night, the American treasure that is David McCullough was lamenting our nation’s illiteracy in our own history and waxing rhapsodic about the courageous construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1880s, saying the structure would stand forever if we truly value and honor our past.

Then, in this newspaper today, Little Rock’s Broadway Bridge, a half-century younger, is getting called “functionally obsolete,” and County Judge Buddy Villines is saying we can make this blasted cheap new bridge we’re hell-bent on building a special structure by lathering it up with red, white and blue paint to look like some cheap carnival ride.

Villines, failed protector of our public water supply, says we don’t have the money to do anything nice, but that paint is inexpensive.

Honor our veterans? Seriously? He wants to “honor” our veterans with tacky?

I am pretty sure our fathers and grandfathers were not wallowing in mud and worse on Okinawa so that Little Rock could showcase tastelessness.

Functionally obsolete? What the heck? I’ll go down three right now and drive across the Broadway Bridge. That does not make it functionally obsolete. It makes it functional.

It doesn’t have a bike path or a wide pedestrian walkway. So go to one of those “dam” bridges or down by the Clint on Library if you’re hell-bent on biking across.

The Broadway Bridge is safe. It needs some restorative work within a decade. So send a couple of guys down there with some caulk.

That’s cheaper than a new bridge. And it’s not  garish or tacky or red or white or blue. And it keeps us in touch with our heritage.





14 Responses to 'Tastelessness in Little Rock — a tacky bridge'

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  1. You realize, of course, that using ‘one of those dam bridges’ adds more than 10 miles to one’s bike ride. One might just as easily tell car drivers to use the Main Street bridge or I30 bridge. That would add far less than 10 miles to their journeys.

    But, the paint idea IS tacky – even tackier than your desire to have bicycle riders ride longer distances.

    Steve Garrett

    12 Nov 12 at 9:23 am

  2. I agree with you for the first time ever on one point A red white and blue bridge would be tacky. I hope the state will come up with a sensible reason not to do it. However, functionally obsolete is a technical term. In this case, it means some aspects of the bridge don’t meet current federal requirements. If it were designed new, the travel lanes would be wider and the barrier rail at the edge of the bridge would be stronger, among other things.

    nlr reader

    12 Nov 12 at 11:48 am

  3. Many scenic and historic cities and structures in Arkansas have been effectively destroyed or defaced by tasteless politicians and misguided city councils. My hometown of Hot Springs is a textbook example of what can happen to a state treasure when people with no vision or taste try to “improve” it.

    bill c

    12 Nov 12 at 11:48 am

  4. Wow. Your dismissal of cyclists and pedestrians is disconcerting. Honoring and preserving our history is an important thing, but you clearly haven’t given any thought to the role foot and bicycle traffic play in creating a downtown that is worth preserving. I’m assigning you to read a piece in the September 27, 2012, New York Times on similar development problems in Louisville, KY. To quote the author: “What brings life to a city are attractions, services, homes and walkable streets.”

    S Leonard

    12 Nov 12 at 11:50 am

  5. can’t you walk over that clinton library bridge? i’ve walked over the main street bridge many times, parking in lr and hoofing to verizon. but i do not mean to dismiss cyclists so much as i mean to resist tackiness.


    12 Nov 12 at 12:05 pm

  6. Finally, a Brummett column I can agree with on all points…..but, what, are you leaning to the right with this idea of saving the taxpayer’s money???

    Mickey Maddox

    12 Nov 12 at 11:53 am

  7. i think it’s left-leaning to support education and history and tastefulness.


    12 Nov 12 at 12:02 pm

  8. Is Bummett making sense? I thought his whole agenda was to spend money we don’t have like all good Obamites!


    12 Nov 12 at 1:18 pm

  9. Well , If it all it is lacking is a bike path and a wide pedestrian walkway, why not build a “side attachment” to accomodate both those needs, and keeping the outside walls as a safety barrier. I am confident a bridge structural engineer could design an attachment that is tied in to and supported by the existing bridge. Surely the existing bridge was designed to carry additional weight load.
    If it is not, then build the bike path and walkway attached to the sides of the bridge, but supported by new piers and columns. Either would have to be far less expensive than an entirely new bridge, and far less disruptive to ongoing traffic needs.
    Now if the current bridge is so weakened that it poses real future danger that it would be more expensive to upgrade its safety than it would be to build a new one and tear down the old one, then that’s a different story.

    Denver Dudley

    12 Nov 12 at 1:33 pm

  10. if you all knew the true condition of the broadway bridge, you wouldn’t be suggesting that they just apply a little caulk.

    nlr reader

    12 Nov 12 at 1:43 pm

  11. the bridge is safe and will remain so for a decade or thereabouts, or so i was told by the director of the highway department, who also said the bridge could be fortified and structurally rehabbed, but that the department doesn’t want to do it. we just don’t value history in arkansas. maybe it’s because we often seem to have been on the wrong side of it — slavery, civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights.


    12 Nov 12 at 2:31 pm

  12. Since we get $1.40 in federal money for every dollar we pay in federal taxes, kicking Arkansas out of the United States would save a hell of a lot of taxpayer money.

    Without the fed, we’d be crossing that river on rowboats.


    13 Nov 12 at 10:26 am

  13. “we just don’t value history in arkansas. maybe it’s because we often seem to have been on the wrong side of it — slavery, civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights.” you forgot “electing republicans and blue dog democrats” 😉

    bill c

    13 Nov 12 at 11:58 am

  14. The sadly humorous thing about Villines suggestion is that the current bridge already honors veterans. When the Broadway and (now demolished and replaced) Main Street bridges were first built, they were dedicated in honor of Great War veterans. My memory is a little rusty but I believe the Broadway bridge was originally dedicated to sailors and nurses, with the other branches represented by the Main Street bridge. If we continue on this trajectory, we might as well start bulldozing monuments around the capitol to make room for some more parking; the number of spaces currently available for the upcoming session are truly “functionally obsolete.”

    Some of the renovation plans put forward mirror what Mr. Dudley suggested: building a parallel companion span to serve bicycle and pedestrian traffic with the possibility of even accommodating trolley tracks. AHTD preferred replacement.

    G. W. Donaghey

    13 Nov 12 at 12:47 pm

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