The Lincoln Street Bridge over the Arkansas River reopened earlier today, Nov. 16, and travelers no longer need to detour to Harry Street, City of Wichita Public Works & Utilities officials said.
That section of Lincoln Street has been closed since March 2011, when a $13.7 million in reconstruction work began. In addition to reconstruction work, the project included construction of a new dam downstream. The dam will be able to more efficiently control the level of the Arkansas River through downtown, once there are normal water levels in the river. A passage was also constructed to allow boat and fish to travel south of the dam.
It is still unclear when the dam will be used to raise the river north of Lincoln Street. The ongoing drought has greatly reduced the river’s current level, and river flows need to increase substantially in order to safely use the dam. It could be months until rainfall is sufficient enough to increase flows that allow the City to raise the river.