STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
Construction of the new RM 2900 bridge in Kingsland has hit a snag.
Or, to be more accurate, concrete, steel, and rebar from the old bridge.
“No matter where they sink a drill bit, they’re pulling out metal and concrete,” said Jeff Low of the Texas Department of Transportation.
Newly elected Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham called a workshop meeting for Jan. 7 to gather city, county, regional, state, and federal stakeholders for updates on the October flood recovery.
City leaders and county commissioners provided an overview of damage to homes in their areas and what cleanup efforts were taken or yet to be done.
Low represented TxDOT as other leaders from the state department met at the same time as the commissioners court to discuss a plan for the bridge’s construction moving forward.
Cathy Kratz, TxDOT area engineer, said after the meeting that progress continues on the bridge.
“The contractor has encountered debris from the old bridge; however, construction will not stop for debris removal as it is below the lake bed surface and too deep to retrieve. Instead, the drillers will have to drill through it, which they have the ability to do,” Kratz said.
Construction crews will begin setting beams for the first two spans of the bridge next week, Kratz said.
“The goal is to keep the project on schedule while making sure we have a method for compensating the drillers for the extra work,” Kratz said. “We’ve established a plan for moving forward.”
During the workshop, Low said parts of the old bridge are as far as 20 feet underneath sand. The water depth is about 10 feet at the bridge, he said, followed by 15-20 feet of sand.
As for debris removal, the meeting heard reports from city mayors and managers as well as three of the county’s commissioners.
Some residents with the means to do so have begun rebuilding homes and paid for debris removal.
Horseshoe Bay Mayor Steve Jordan said Apple Head Island residents have spent more than $100,000 to remove debris.
Llano County Precinct 3 Commissioner Mike Sandoval said 20 houses in a cove in his precinct have banded together to split a $66,000 cleanup bill.
One county resident in attendance at the workshop, Charles Miller, said he’s paid more than $10,000 for debris removal and knows his neighbors have paid similar amounts.
However, not all waterfront residents are able to foot their own debris removal bills.
As lakes are lowered and more debris is exposed, Llano County Precinct 1 Commissioner Peter Jones said constituents don’t know what to do.
“The LCRA has not agreed to contracting of debris removal. The county, as far as I understand, does not have the authority or the equipment to remove debris. Our constituents are coming to us, asking what do we do, and we don’t have clear answers,” Jones said.
Because it was a workshop, commissioners could take no action.
The workshop also included Scott Thomas of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. State counties are waiting for the flood to be declared a natural disaster at the federal level in order to be eligible for relief funds. Thomas told those in attendance that he did not know the status of the declaration or when one might be made.