What might be the largest man lift in the United States is parked atop the Jessie Brent Memorial Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi River.
The man lift is there for an inspection that occurs every two years. The inspection is to track changes in the bridge.
“The bridges start out nice and shiny,” said Richard Withers with the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s bridge division. “They deteriorate over time, just like us.”
While most bridges are built for a 75-year life cycle, Withers said the Greenville bridge is not a normal bridge. It’s built for a much longer period of time.
Any bridges nearing the end of their 75-year life cycle today would have cars from the 1930s and 1940s crossing them when opened. Vehicles are much different today.
“Traffic always increases,” Withers said. “But the biggest wear on bridges is from freezing and thawing.”
The Greenville bridge was completed in 2010 and replaced the Benjamin G. Humphreys bridge.
The older bridge was the first span of the river at Greenville and was completed in 1940.
Humphreys was a congressman from Greenville and co-author of the 1917 flood control bill that established flood control on the Mississippi River.
The current bridge was dedicated to Jesse Brent in 2014. Brent was a shipping magnate in Greenville during the years the town was the capital of the tow boat industry.
The older bridge was the first roadway between Lake Village, Arkansas, and Greenville. Prior to the bridge, traffic crossed the river via ferry.
Details of the current bridge include:
* The top of the highest tower is about 425 feet from the surface of the river;
* Total length of 13,560 feet;
* Bridge clearance for water traffic is 122 feet;
* Width of the bridge at the widest point is 88 feet;
* Total cost of the bridge is $336 million.
The bridge took 16 years from design to completion and the work to destroy the old bridge began in 2011. Two workers died during the demolition.