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Salvage Work Begins on Washed Out Bridge


June 23, 2010 by wcobserver

By Susan McCarthy

West Fork-About 60,000 pounds of steel is being cut into pieces and hauled out of the West Fork of the White River after flooding swept away a large bridge on private property south of West Fork about two years ago.

Stephen Marquardt, who owns Marquardt Ironworks in West Fork and designs high-end custom ironwork for estates, says he struck a deal with the land’s owner to remove the scrap metal after the recession slowed demand for his work.

Marquardt says he saw the value in the scrap steel lying at the bottom of the river and also knew it would provide material for upcoming projects.

Much of the steel will go to Vaughn Recycling in Fayetteville, Marquardt says.  He will also use some of it for upcoming projects at his ironworks firm and the rest will be made available for sale.

“It’s a really major project,” said Marquardt.  He goes on to describe that three beams provided the support for the bridge; each are 70 feet long and 36” high.  He says the more technical term for the beam is W36x160 beam, which means the beam’s width is 36 inches and the beam weighs 160 pounds per foot.

“Basically ,the bridge was built too low.  When the White River came up, it hit the 36” high beam,” said Marquardt.

“It was amazing that it washed out.  A bunch of logs from up the river washed down and took it out.  Water was five feet over the bridge,” said Gene Long, who owns the land where the bridge once stood.  Long said the bridge was built by the land’s previous owners and that he’s owned the land about five years.

Long says the bridge was not insured and insurance will not cover the cost of clean-up.

“It was just our loss,” he said. “We’re going to have that bridge removed.  In fact, we have to have it removed.  We’ve been asked by state agencies to do so.  We’ll probably build a low water bridge across there.”

Long says the bridge is estimated to weigh 300,000 pounds and was 80 feet long.  Marquardt says Long will evaluate next steps once his work is complete; there will still be tons of concrete to be dealt with after his work is done.

According to Long, costs to replace the bridge were estimated at $200,000.

Marquardt and Brian Haden have spent the past couple of weeks clearing brush and creating a staging area and were out this week in a drier West Fork White River, cutting the steel beams and hauling the pieces out of the river in the bucket of a tractor.  “We’ll probably have it done this week,” Marquardt said.



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