LCRA gives OK to use explosives on old 281 bridge over Lake Marble Falls

JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — The Lower Colorado River Authority approved the Texas Department of Transportation’s request to use explosives for the demolition of the old U.S. 281 bridge over Lake Marble Falls.

PHOTO: The Texas Department of Transportation has a tentative plan to demolish the old U.S. 281 bridge over Lake Marble Falls between March 17 and March 23. Staff photo by Jared Fields

Bridge contractor Archer Western Contractors sought to use explosives to demolish the 77-year-old structure to expedite the demolition process.

“We are happy with it. The sooner we demolish the bridge, the sooner (Archer Western) can begin to build the new bridge,” said TxDOT public information officer Kelli Reyna.

LCRA’s waiver gives Archer Western from March 17 to April 8 to use explosives under two conditions:

• That TxDOT provides copies of its safety and emergency response plans to the City of Marble Falls, LCRA, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, and;

• The demolition contractor must have a permit from the state fire marshal.

Reyna said the tentative plan is for the initial blast to occur between March 17 and March 23.

The contractors will use explosives to demolish the main section of the bridge. Reyna said smaller blasts might be needed later to finish demolishing the piers in the lake.

Although LCRA has granted a waiver, TPWD has yet to authorize the explosive demolition.

According to TPWD communications division director Lydia Saldaña, TxDOT needs to provide more information before authorization is granted.

“We’ve discussed this issue with TxDOT and their construction contractor and are waiting on some information from them in order to formulate recommendations to include in the written authorization,” Saldaña wrote via email.

Clara Tuma, spokesperson for LCRA, said TxDOT and Archer Western met their safety concerns for the LCRA waiver to be granted.

“One of our concerns was about boating safety. The lake area immediately by the bridge will be closed for several hours before the explosion, during and after it,” Tuma said.

Since the old bridge was closed to traffic Feb. 12, construction crews have begun minor demolition work, such as removing light posts, guardrails and concrete barriers. Reyna said plans are for crews to begin removing the bridge’s deck, and the widening sections added in 1975, next week.

jared@thepicayune.com