TxDOT project to preserve history, build new Llano River bridge

STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY

The Texas Department of Transportation has proposed a new bridge over the Llano River in northwestern Llano County to retire the aging Schneider Slab Crossing bridge. Pictured is a popular area of the Llano River just off CR 152. Staff photo

The Texas Department of Transportation has proposed a new bridge over the Llano River in northwestern Llano County to retire the aging Schneider Slab Crossing bridge. Pictured is a popular area of the Llano River just off CR 152. Staff photo

CASTELL — Llano County residents will consider safety vs. the historical value of the Schneider Slab Crossing on the Llano River while mulling a proposal to build a new bridge nearby, officials said.

The Schneider Slab Crossing is about 10 miles west of Llano and about 8 miles from Castell off CR 152.

A proposed new Texas Department of Transportation structure, elevated about 4-5 feet, is expected to be built at least 20 feet downstream of the current span.

The old crossing then would be closed to vehicle traffic but remain open to the public.

“The structure of the current crossing is problematic because it’s defective. … It’s less than one-lane wide,” Llano County Judge Mary Cunningham said of the crossing, which has deteriorated over the years. “They need to leave the current slab intact, in place, with something to prevent use (by motorists).”

TxDOT has proposed funding a bridge spanning the Llano River at CR 103 with approximately $1.4 million.

“TxDOT has money from the federal government for these substandard structures,” Cunningham said.

On March 12, a number of landowners approached Llano County commissioners to debate the value of a proposed new bridge.

Landowners touted the historical significance of the slab and requested preservation for public use — such as pedestrian traffic — while others applauded a potential new structure to enhance safety.

At least one landowner expressed concern about the impact on private property due to the construction and use of a new bridge.

“There’s a lot of people down there in the summer that go swimming there,” Cunningham said of that section of the Llano River. “It’s mainly tourists and the ranchers who use it.

“It is an important recreational spot for the people of Llano County,” she added.

A TxDOT-awarded matching grant would require Llano County to set aside about 10 percent of the award amount, approximately $140,000, for other projects.

“A potential match from Llano County could take place over several years … for things like bridge repair and culvert work,” she said.

Llano County commissioners agreed the new span would be a win-win for residents.

“We need to take advantage of what would be a gift to the county to upgrade a crossing and leave the current slab in place for historical and recreational purposes,” Cunningham said. “For the historical value and the recreational use, TxDOT agreed to (keep the slab).

“The liability of doing nothing is enormous.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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