The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Contact Congress to Save the White River Bridge in the Heart of the Delta, March, 2018

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 03:44 PM

We would like to give our enthusiastic and urgent endorsement to the leaders of the Save the White River Bridge Campaign at Clarendon, in the heart of the East Arkansas Delta. A citizens group is working to save the bridge built in 1931.

There are thousands of Delta residents supporting the White River Bridge Campaign’s plan to save this bridge from destruction and “re-purpose” it for use as a key link of the hiking and biking trail for the Greater Delta Region. The bridge would play a key role in promoting Delta heritage tourism.

The entire 2 ½ miles of the bridge goes through the wilds of the Big Woods which envelop the Cache and White rivers.

This bridge is currently scheduled to be demolished due to a deeply unfortunate, ill-advised bureaucratic decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Demolition has been suspended by a court decision until May 29.

Right now, we need to ask Members of Congress to change the demolition decision and save this Delta landmark.

Please read this brief description, and then call the office of Sen. John Boozman, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee at (202) 224-4843. Ask him to lead the campaign to save the White River Bridge for hiking and cycling uses.

Sen. Boozman is a fine, fair-minded man and we know you will take a courteous approach in your appeal to ask him to support this beneficial campaign.

We would also ask those who live in east Arkansas to contact Congressman Rick Crawford, in whose district the bridge is located, at 202-225-4076. Congressman Crawford is also a very fair man who has always listened to us about our concerns for the Delta over many years.

This is an opportunity to do something real for the Delta as opposed to talking about it. We want to save the bridge, as Porter Briggs of the campaign emphasized in an op-ed column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 22:

The bridge would be “the highlight of the cycling route through the Delta between Little Rock and the Mississippi River Trail that is being built along the Mississippi between St. Louis and New Orleans.”

Let’s think big–this is not just about one area in Arkansas but is a vital link of the regional effort to promote tourism and appreciation for the Delta’s natural splendor through hiking and biking networks.

In Arkansas, we have seen the impact of bicycling with the Razorback Trail, the new Delta heritage Trail, the Big Dam Bridge and other trails being developed. The 2.25 miles of the bridge offer a unique tree-top perspective through the wilds of the 550,000-acre Big Woods. As Porter Briggs wrote: “The beauty of the bridge is sublime.”

Many people who live in the area are working their hearts out to save the beloved bridge. Thousands of people across the wider region have signed petitions and otherwise sought to aid their effort. We are calling on all Delta Caucus/Economic Equality Caucus partners to do the same to save the White River Bridge.

FACTS: There is an $11.3 million contract that has been let to a company in Mississippi to demolish the bridge, but a court has suspended it until May 29. The White River Bridge Campaign did their homework: they retained the nationally recognized engineering design firm, Kimley-Horn, to prepare their alternative plan for repurposing the bridge for the Delta heritage tourism campaign.

The national engineering design firm concluded that complete renovation of the bridge would cost $5.376 million, $5 million of which the campaign would have immediate access to from the same source as the demolition funds–so the “repurposing” plan would actually cost $6 million less in federal spending than demolition.

Maintenance costs of $60,000 annually will be met by partners of the White River Bridge campaign. No city, county, state or federal funds would be used to maintain the bridge.

The bridge will not do any harm to farming, hunting or fishing. Parts of the bridge that had earlier obstructed flow of the water from the rivers when they are flooding have been removed, so that is not an issue. There is every reason to save the bridge and no legitimate reason to destroy it.

We will certainly weigh in with Members of Congress and Trump administration officials at our May 23-24, 2018 Delta Caucus/Economic Equality Caucus conference in Washington, DC.

Porter Briggs will speak on behalf of the White River Bridge Campaign at our session at the US Senate Russell Building Caucus Room 485, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., May 24.

But we need to act now. While we expect to fight until the end and our conference is a week before the May 29 deadline, we need to contact our elected officials today.

We are running out of time. We must act now. Our federal bureaucracy is planning to spend $11.3 million to destroy an icon of our Delta heritage that could benefit the economic, aesthetic, and environmental development of our region for the present and future generations.

Help us ask our elected officials to stop federal bureaucrats from this pointless, destructive decision.

Lee Powell on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Delta Grassroots Caucus