Surveyed residents mostly positive on Wirtz Dam bridge project

CONNIE SWINNEY  • STAFF WRITER

Officials have released the results of the Wirtz Dam bridge survey, which indicated overwhelming support for the project. Photo courtesy of the Lower Colorado River Authority

Officials have released the results of the Wirtz Dam bridge survey, which indicated overwhelming support for the project. Photo courtesy of the Lower Colorado River Authority

COTTONWOOD SHORES — Officials have released a survey that indicated an overall favorable impression of a proposed Wirtz Dam bridge project, which would provide a bypass adjacent to Marble Falls.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which offered the public the survey, also hosted 18 community meetings and offered online and general commenting means for respondents across Burnet County and the surrounding area.

Of the 848 surveys collected and almost as many general comments, the survey showed that 448 found the crossing to be “very beneficial, 118 “beneficial,” and 94 “not beneficial” at all.

An aerial view showing where the Wirtz Dam bridge would be built. Courtesy photo

An aerial view showing where the Wirtz Dam bridge would be built. Courtesy photo

When asked what were the “greatest transportation needs in Burnet and Llano counties,” 33 percent of respondents answered bridges and river crossings, 30 percent said roads, 9 percent picked public transportation, 5 percent chose safety measures, and 15 percent went with “other.”

“We had (a) good turnout. The vast majority of people saw (the bridge) as beneficial and overdue,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who is also on the CAMPO board.

In other survey interactions, some respondents expressed a desire for handling a project with a broader scope.

“There was some skepticism with only doing this connecter. They thought it should be part of a larger loop to alleviate traffic through Marble Falls,” Oakley said. “The beauty of this project is we’re using existing right-of-way and roads to connect to state roads by simply building a bridge with intersections at the highway tie-ins.”

The project, estimated to cost about $15.3 million, would involve a structure with a 900-foot bridge and connector roadways leading from RR 2147 in Cottonwood Shores on the south end and another connector roadway to RR 1431 on the north side.

An existing low-water crossing, which is under water, would still be available for use for heavy haul operations typically carried out by the Lower Colorado River Authority in connection with the Ferguson Power Plant on Lake LBJ.

Officials propose using state fuel tax dollars to fund the project, Oakley said.

CAMPO is scheduled to host a meeting Feb. 13 that would involve accepting the results of the survey and launching the next phase of the project.

“The next step is to define the partnership between (the Texas Department of Transportation) and CAMPO for the funding opportunities necessary to make this vision become a reality,” Oakley said. “The number one thing that came out of this study is how beneficial this alternative route would be for all aspects of emergency services. Hats off to the CAMPO staff for doing an extensive public outreach. They really got interwoven with the community going to various events to make sure it was a thorough study.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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