The Meadowlakes City Council refused to make a quick decision on whether to help finance the construction of a bridge on Avenue N, the main road leading in and out of the incorporated, gated subdivision in Marble Falls. Marble Falls City Engineer Kacey Paul made a presentation on the bridge project to the Meadowlakes council at a specially called meeting Monday, March 8.
“I’d prefer that we decide among ourselves and not have an outside influence present needing us to have an answer,” Meadowlakes Mayor Mark Bentley said at the meeting.
Paul was joined by Marble Falls Mayor John Packer and City Manager Mike Hodge.
The proposed 700-foot bridge would raise an often-flooded low-water crossing on Avenue N by 15 feet. The majority of the $3.5 million project will be funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency and Texas Water Development Board grants with an additional zero-interest loan. The city of Marble Falls would like to split the remaining $358,000 equally between the two municipalities.
Meadowlakes council member Barbara Peskin raised concerns about whether the proposed bridge would be tall enough to remain accessible during another flood. She noted that the Avenue S bridge flooded in 2007 and 2018, despite being taller than the current Avenue N low-water crossing. Avenue S is used as a second entrance to Meadowlakes when Avenue N is flooded.
“I think that this needs to be done, but I’m very concerned that it’s not going to be tall enough,” Peskin said. “I really need to be sure that we’re paying for something that’s going to work.”
Paul did not have the exact measurements of the Avenue S bridge to compare but did address the issue.
“One of the questions we talked about when we started this project was ‘Do we want to look into increasing the height of Avenue S or should we focus on Avenue N?’” Paul said. “It was the resounding answer that we should be focused on Avenue N and improving this crossing because this crossing has a larger impact on the community and residents of this area.”
Other concerns voiced by attendees included bridge design, whether additional grant funding was possible, the terms of payments from Meadowlakes, and if an elevated bridge would be safe to use during other types of natural disasters, such as the recent winter storm.
On March 2, the Marble Falls City Council voted to accept grants and move into project agreements with FEMA and the state water board; however, it did not take final action on funding the remaining costs.
Once accepted, the FEMA grant allows until Jan. 25, 2022, to finish Phase 1 of the project, which includes obtaining all required permits and finalizing bridge design. According to Paul, the Marble Falls council could choose to delay the project during its March 16 meeting until members determine where the remaining funds will come from.
“Pushing this back does cut into that timeline,” Paul said.