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Cottonwood Shores pens protest letter regarding Wirtz Dam Bridge

Wirtz Dam bridge

Conceptual layout of the new Wirtz Dam bridge by K.S. Engineering Inc. Courtesy image

The city of Cottonwood Shores approved sending a letter of documentation outlining its concerns over the proposed Wirtz Dam Bridge to the Lower Colorado River Authority and a list of other entities during its regular meeting Dec. 2. It comes on the heels of a presentation by Burnet County Judge James Oakley at a meeting Nov. 18.

The letter was written by City Councilor Roger Wayson, who works with the Federal Highway Administration and is a noise and air pollution expert. 

“Councilor Wayson has done noise studies for the federal government, Air Force, and Army bases,” Mayor Don Orr told DailyTrib.com. “He’s a well-known environmental person who understands noise and how to stop it.”  

The letter is also being sent to the Capital Area Council of Governments; the cities of Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, and Granite Shoals; the Texas Department of Transportation; Burnet County commissioners; and media outlets.

The city is not trying to stop the bridge from being constructed, Orr said. What officials want are environmental, noise, and traffic studies done and presented as well as public hearings. 

The letter noted that after a presentation on the bridge during the council meeting Nov. 18, councilors were told those studies would not be done. Orr said the belief is that is because the state of Texas won’t be paying for the bridge’s construction.

“It’s pass-through money from the state … ” Orr said. “It’s a way to get around the studies. It needs to be done right. It would be standard if it were a state bridge.”

Wayson said he’d like to see feasibility and traffic studies done, noting the last feasibility study in 2005 stated the bridge wasn’t practical. 

“What has changed?” he asked. “They look at economics, traffic, all that stuff.”

At a public meeting held by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, attendees raised concerns about the bridge, “which seem to have been forgotten,” reads the letter. 

“A survey was distributed by CAMPO, but there was no place to directly check a negative response for the project except in comments,” the letter continues. “The comments were not shown in the survey results shared in the media. The reported approval rate of 87 percent is very misleading. Many people complained about the biased survey, but to no avail.”

The letter also states that “several misconceptions about the bridge” exist, including the estimate of a substantial time savings for driver using the new bridge and the $30 million price tag. Another main concern is that FM 2147 through Cottonwood Shores is two lanes with a turn lane and no shoulder entrance or exit lanes.

“This lack of planning for RM 2147 is a significant concern for (the city of) Cottonwood Shores,” the letter reads. “Traffic counts taken over a year ago using (Texas Department of Transportation) approved methods, showed a daily volume of almost 12,000 vehicles on this two-lane facility. The increased traffic with plans to tie RM 2147 into (Texas) 71, the increased business locations in Cottonwood Shores on RM 2147, and the large increase in truck traffic should be taken into consideration for this section of roadway. The City has concerns that in addition to safety, access to businesses could be affected by the heavy traffic.”

The letter also addresses the environmental concerns, specifically habitats, quiet areas, and hunting grounds for migrating birds such as American white pelicans, geese, bald eagles, hawks, and falcons, and the bridge’s impact on the city’s 17-acre wooded nature park that extends from the water near the proposed bridge crossing. 

“We want to make sure the bridge meets standard and safety requirements,” Orr said.  

jfierro@thepicayune.com

8 thoughts on “Cottonwood Shores pens protest letter regarding Wirtz Dam Bridge

  1. Dear concerned Cottonwood Shores residents,
    Your concerns are understandable. No one likes change to their environment. My prayer for you is for you understand all the potential benefits this proposed bridge will bring you. They are numerous but, here’s a few examples.

    1. Traffic through Cottonwood Shores through the Lemming intersection will drop drastically. Horseshoe Bay residents and those west of the intersection of 72 and 2147 will decline significantly as people take the bridge to go to Marble Falls. It will be much more convenient for access to the feed store or H-E-B or many other places in marble.
    2. You may likely enjoy this shortcut yourselves.
    3. As the already heavy traffic on 281 continues to increase, you’ll likely appreciate an alternative route to MF stores & Facilities w/o having to deal with 281.

    Pls give this advantage a chance and keep a positive outlook. Regardless, you will be healthier with that positive outlook.
    May you enjoy the many blessings of love, kindness, joy & promise of this season.

  2. The reality is you can’t fight the development that is coming to the Highland Lakes region as a whole, including and especially in Marble Falls and the surrounding communities (i.e., Cottonwood Shores). The benefits of a bridge by Wirtz Dam significantly outweigh the costs, and there are ways to mitigate noise – this is done all the time in areas with significantly more lanes, more traffic, etc. This is a relatively small bridge project and they’re talking about it as though a parallel interstate is about to run right through the heart of Cottonwood Shores. I would argue that having sound barriers constructed or else ensuring that a natural sound barrier (i.e., trees, hedges, etc.) is build alongside the new road would largely suffice. (I was an engineer and did assist in civil projects on occasion so I’m not blowing smoke.)

    Other arguments made against the bridge area essentially nonsense and these sorts of NIMBY viewpoints are exactly why the Marble Falls and surrounding area is struggling to grow in a healthy way. I’ll confess that I’m relatively new to the area – I retired here from out of state – but I can say this with complete confidence: growth is coming whether you like it or not. If you try to stall or stop every possible opportunity for *positive* development in the region that benefits more than just you and your neighborhood, you are doing so at risk of creating larger problems elsewhere.

  3. Let me add that it would be useful if the Trib could publish a drawing showing how the bridge ties in with the other roads in our area.

  4. I’d like to hear from property owners on the other side of the proposed bridge. I don’t know the area where the road will come out but I wonder how people there feel about a highway coming through.

  5. There are several misleading and inaccurate statements made within the article. Rest assured, the bridge will built to 100% TxDoT standards and processes. It is indeed pass thru funding, such to not cost local taxpayers, but it will be built just as if TxDoT is building it. Once completed, it will be turned over to TxDoT. Any environmental concerns will be studied no different than any other TxDoT project. The public will benefit greatly from this project, just as the studies & surveys indicate.

  6. As a sitting Marble Falls city councilman, I am very excited to see the Wirts Dam bridge. I moved here in 1970 living in Kingsland and had to drive 2900 or 281 to Marble Falls to get to the Southside of the lake. This will be good for so many residents living on the south side of the lake and for those on the north side. To think it affects the habitat is a none issue. The bridge could be built in a way to encourage habitat underneath the bridge. Cottonwood and HSB would benefit in so many ways. Great restaurant and golf I see would be increased. As far as the effect on Marble Falls I see less traffic congestion. On top of this if we could widen 1980 to fair and to 281. Moving more traffic off of Marble Falls is very much needed. I do agree that 2147 needs turn lanes for many reasons.
    Let’s face it, Marble Falls is growing and we need to be ready. Anyway just the way I see how this win-winn win for everyone.

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