Home Hays County Commissioners work to improve commute after two bridges lost to floods

Commissioners work to improve commute after two bridges lost to floods

Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Multimedia Editor
The Fischer Store Road Bridge supports stand above the Blanco River and the ruins below Oct. 23

Six months after two bridges were demolished in the Memorial Day weekend flood, Hays County Commissioners are searching for solutions to improve commutes that previously relied on the structures.

Commissioner Will Conley, Precinct 3, the Fischer Store Road bridge was destroyed by the flood. Conley began looking at solutions immediately, including the possibility of building a temporary bridge.

However, on Oct. 6 Conley released a statement saying he was no longer pursuing the construction of a temporary bridge. A temporary structure would have to be built partly on private land.

Construction on the permanent Fischer Store Road bridge is moving ahead of schedule, meaning it is no longer economically justifiable to create a temporary structure for the shortened amount of time left before the permanent one is completed, Conley said.

 Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Multimedia EditorThe Fischer Store Road Bridge ruins lay on the banks of the Blanco River Oct. 23
Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Multimedia Editor
The Fischer Store Road Bridge ruins lay on the banks of the Blanco River Oct. 23

“We missed the window of opportunity,” Conley said. “It’s a good and bad thing.”

Conley said he worked with private landowners for months to come up with a plan for a temporary bridge that would suit all parties involved, but was unable to find one.

“We would get consensus from one landowner, then when we crossed the river we would run into another problem,” Conley said. “Now, we are out of time.”

Conley said he was in favor of creating a temporary bridge because the public deserves an easy route during the construction process of the permanent structure.

“All of those problems and different issues are private to the owner and their lives,” Conley said. “Those people have been through a lot.”

Gary Tucker, San Marcos resident, said the loss of the bridge makes his daily commute longer, but he feels Conley and other county officials have been proactive about the situation.

“I lost my home and two cars in the flood,” Tucker said. “It was hard on the county to lose a bridge like that, but we are all doing the best we can with what happened.”

Tucker said getting to Wimberley has become particularly difficult.

“It makes a huge impact on quality of life and convenience,” Conley said. “Not having the bridge makes it harder to get to work, the doctor’s or even just into town.”

Conley’s original goal was to have the bridge reconstructed by the one-year anniversary of the Memorial Day weekend flood. However, he said the project is moving quickly and may be completed before then.

“You’re going to see a lot of activity (at the bridge site),” Conley said. “I’m very pleased with how it is moving along.”

The Post Road bridge was lost in Commissioner Ray Whisenant’s, Precinct 4, jurisdiction.

Whisenant is still pursuing the possibility of building a temporary bridge.

Whisenant is waiting for Hays County officials to calculate the total cost of a temporary bridge. He expects to receive the estimated cost by the end of the week. After that, he will present the plan in Commissioners Court.

The Precinct 4 commissioner said his goal is to have a temporary bridge built by Jan. 1. If it cannot be built by then, it will become illogical to construct the bridge at all because it would not be in place long before needing to be removed, Whisenant said.

If built, the temporary bridge will be in place until the state of Texas finalizes plans for the new, permanent bridge, then it would be removed so the permanent structure could be built.

Whisenant said he has to get approval from the Texas Department of Transportation, Union Pacific Railroad and Hays County before he can create the temporary bridge.

Once the temporary structure is removed, the county will be able to reuse the materials for bridge repair work in the future.

Whisenant said some residents in the area have told him the absence of a bridge adds 25 minutes to their commute to work.

State officials have told Whisenant that plans for the bridge will be completed by May 16. Construction on the permanent Post Road bridge will begin in June or July and be completed by the end of the year.