STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
A new 2900 bridge in Kingsland could be open in just six months.
Terry McCoy, the Texas Department of Transportation Austin District engineer, said Oct. 26 that the 1,200-foot-long bridge is expected to cost $15 million and “be open by next April.”
To accomplish such a lofty goal, McCoy said a construction contract will be awarded by next week and incentives will be in place for construction crews to work around the clock in order to finish as soon as possible.
The “perch bridge” design will be slightly higher in the middle — and wider. McCoy said the middle of the bridge will be higher than the ends and about 5 feet higher at its peak than the previous bridge on RR 2900, which was destroyed by floodwaters Oct. 16. The bridge will have 12-foot lanes, a 6-foot shoulder, and a new 6-foot sidewalk.
Before construction, crews will be removing debris.
“We want the folks in Llano County to know that we understand (RR) 2900 is an important north-south route in Kingsland. It carries about 5,600 vehicles per day. We are committed, and determined, to get it open as soon as possible.”
Planning for the new bridge began almost as soon as the old bridge was destroyed Oct. 16 with a “multi-disciplinary team” working long hours every day since to move forward.
“This type of effort is not one you can sustain over time, but it was important to invest those resources in the short term to get that out,” McCoy said.
Peter Jones, Llano County Precinct 1 commissioner, said the loss of the bridge has been difficult for residents on the south side of the river in his precinct.
“We’re thankful for TxDOT to move forward as quickly as they are,” Jones said.
The residents on the south side of the 2900 bridge have had to drive to Kingsland by going around to Llano or Marble Falls. The road crossing the Llano River on CR 3404 (Slab Road) remains closed, but Jones said he expects it to reopen in a few weeks when the water recedes, giving people another crossing a little closer.
In Llano County, the work to recover from flood damage continues as debris removal becomes a priority.
“I’m proud of the way everybody in our county has stepped up,” said Mike Sandoval, Llano County Precinct 2 commissioner.
Sandoval said county officials are meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials next week to discuss assistance and damage assessments. The county’s road and bridge crew is using dump trucks to begin the debris-removal process in the county, Sandoval said.
The old 2900 bridge was built in 1969, and when last inspected, passed in good condition.
However, with the bridge’s destruction, McCoy said TxDOT is engineering the new bridge to withstand similar future natural events.
“It will serve us another 50, and possibly, 100 years,” McCoy said. “I’m going to stick around just to make sure that it does.”