IF YOU are a regular user of Wildcat Shoals Ramp or the Narrows Access then you will want to swing by the shop and sign a local petition to rebuild the bridge across Hightower Creek.
Local residents started the petition after suggestion that authorities would not rebuild the bridge instead forcing all traffic to use the longer northern route via a paved Monkey Run hill.
Residents say that the decision would affect tourist resorts, bed and breakfast operations, guides and other businesses. Resident are concerned fire and ambulance response time would be significantly impacted and school bus services similarly
The text of the petition below
Judge Pendergrass and Baxter County Quorum Court members:
It has come to our attention that the Baxter County Road & Bridge Department plans to do nothing more to repair the bridge over Hightower Creek on Denton Ferry Road and proceed to pave the steep portion of Monkey Run making that our only access to our area.
This plan has major drawbacks that we find unacceptable.
1. The fire station at the Wildcat Shoals Access is responsible for protection of 17.3 square miles of Baxter County. Much of that area requires crossing Hightower Creek to access. Even if Monkey Run is paved, if our water tanker and main pumper can make it up that hill it will be a time consuming crawl in their lowest gear. Only three of our volunteer firemen live on the west side of Hightower Creek. The rest come down Wildcat Shoals Road or down Denton Ferry Highway and must cross Hightower Creek to reach the fire station.
2. The impact on ambulance service and ability of our EMT First Responders to render aid to residents of the area would be profound. That could be life threatening to many of our residents.
3. The Rainbow Drive Resort could possibly be put out of business. Many customers will be unwilling to bring a 5th wheel RV or motor home down Monkey Run and then attempt to get it back out.
4. Wildcat Shoals Access is a major launch site for fishermen on the White River. That becomes much more inaccessible if unable to cross Hightower Creek. The closure of the Hightower Creek bridge essentially closes off a major portion of the Baxter County side of the White River. It is difficult to estimate the economic impact on various bed & breakfast businesses, guide services, and fly-fishing stores in Cotter and Gassville that cater to sportsmen.
We feel there is a better way to address this issue. The low-water bridge over Hightower Creek has been there for decades without structural problems. The culverts under the bridge have not been displaced or shifted. The upstream side of the bridge has little if any damage. The downstream side of the bridge appears repairable. Only after the guard rails were installed a few years ago have we suffered severe damage. Those guard rails catch the debris coming downstream during flood conditions. The debris stacks up on the upstream side of the bridge and amplifies the destructive power of the water. The guard rails should be removed permanently then the debris will float over the top of the bridge unimpeded. If the county deems it essential to reinstall those guard rails, they should establish a contingency plan to remove those rails and put up warning signs advising caution when heavy rain events are forecast to occur.