TxDOT to discuss U.S. 281 bridge implosion with Marble Falls council, residents

MARBLE FALLS — Construction officials working on plans to demolish the old U.S. 281 bridge with explosives will meet with city leaders and residents March 5 during the City Council’s regular meeting.

The Lower Colorado River Authority granted a waiver to the Texas Department of Transportation to use explosives to demolish the bridge between March 17 and April 8.

Currently, TxDOT officials have a tentative plan to implode the 77-year-old structure early March 17 — a Sunday — about 8 a.m.

However, TxDOT remains in discussions with other agencies, such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, to receive further authorization to use explosives.

TxDOT spokesperson Kelli Reyna said the date and time are dependent on TxDOT receiving all necessary materials and clearances. Reyna said the date and time for implosion should be confirmed a week to 10 days before the proposed date.

Officials from TxDOT and the City of Marble Falls met Feb. 26 to discuss plans for the proposed implosion. Marble Falls City Manager Ralph Hendricks said representatives from TxDOT, as well as contractor Archer Western, will speak about plans for safety, transportation and a timeline during the upcoming council meeting.

“They’ll talk about the process they will go through and the safety measures put in place,” he said. “We’re making sure the water system will not be damaged. … They’ve answered every question we’ve asked from them.”

TxDOT spokesperson Kelli Reyna said plans now are for roads to be closed no longer than 10 minutes.

“We’ll have numerous bridge inspectors on site as soon as it goes down, and they’ll check out the (new) structure,” Reyna said. “We’ll have a team in the water, and they will go and evaluate the substructure. We never put traffic on a bridge if we feel it’s not safe.”

Mitzi Reneau, president of the Gateway Park Property Owners Association, said she welcomes the opportunity to hear construction officials speak during the March 5 council meeting.

“I’m excited about us getting to find out more,” Reneau said.

Reneau represents almost 100 residences and about 60 property owners in Gateway Park who have expressed a number of concerns about the bridge implosion’s effect on the city’s water plant and drinking water, power outages and traffic from onlookers.

“We want to know that there’s a plan in place to manage (the demolition),” Reneau said. “They know what they’re doing and are not going to take any undue risk. But, no matter what goes on, there is an amount of risk involved.”

As residents and others in the community are curious about the process of demolishing the bridge, Reyna said TxDOT is working to ensure all those questions are answered.

One way of doing that, Reyna said, is by TxDOT making a document of Frequently Asked Questions to distribute to the Marble Falls community as the implosion nears.

“We always try to address everybody’s concerns ahead of time,” she said. “We don’t want people to be confused or misunderstand what’s happening.”

jared@thepicayune.com