SLIDESHOW: [A] Two Americorps volunteers survey the destroyed Fischer Store Road bridge on June 26, a little more than a month after the Memorial Day weekend floods in Blanco, Hays, Caldwell and Guadalupe counties. [B] A road sign warns drivers that Fischer Store Road is impassable at the Blanco River. PHOTOS by JOCELYN AUGUSTINO
by BRAD ROLLINS
NEAR FISCHER — After a series of unforeseen delays, Hays County commissioners authorized County Judge Bert Cobb on Tuesday to execute an agreement with private landowners that apparently makes way for installation of a temporary Fischer Store Road bridge over the Blanco River.
Following an executive session discussion of the real estate, the court unanimously approved an “improved property agreement” with two riverfront property owners from whom the county needs an easement or something similar to build the bridge.
“Hopefully we can build off this momentum and we’ll have a temporary bridge constructed and in use in the next 60 days. About the same time, we’ll start construction on the permanent bridge,” Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said. “Things are moving forward and looking up.”
Terms of the county’s agreement with property owners were not discussed in open court and related documents were not immediately available.
The Fischer Store Road bridge was toppled late May 23 when uprooted trees, splintered houses and other wreckage borne by a swollen Blanco River formed a massive logjam. Although the river picked up even more debris as it passed through Wimberley, the Ranch Road 12 bridge downriver was spared structural damage, in part, because major flotsam passed high above the road bed on the rising floodwaters.
Less than two weeks after the disaster, on June 2, state and county officials signed a funding agreement to fast-track reconstruction of a permanent Fischer Store Road bridge. Since then, the Texas Department of Transportation’s Austin district engineer has completed engineering and design for the $2,950,000 project and is already soliciting bids for construction.
As of Aug. 19, seven firms had submitted proposals for the job: Greater Austin Development LLC, Capital Excavation Co and the Dan Williams Co., all based in Austin; Navasoto-based Fuqua Construction Co.; San Marcos-based Hunter Industries; Hondo-based Relmco Inc.; and Peachtree, Ga.-based Kiewitt Infrastructure South Co.
TxDOT is scheduled to award a construction contract on Sept. 3. Construction is expected to begin in October or November, Conley said, with an anticipated completion date before the Memorial Day weekend flood’s one-year anniversary.
In the meantime, Cobb and Conley have advocated for a temporary replacement, possibly by laying flatbed rail cars across the river channel. With dozens of subdivisions and hundreds of homes cut off from emergency services based in Wimberley, the downed Fischer Store Road bridge was particularly problematic before Hays County crews repaired and reopened low-water crossing at Valley View Road on June 29 and Wayside Drive on Aug. 1.
Replacing or repairing damaged and destroyed roads and bridges in Hays County will cost more than $10.9 million, according to estimates by local officials submitted to the Texas Department of Emergency Management. Damage to other public facilities — buildings, parks, utility systems and flood control dams — is estimated to cost nearly $9 million.
Of significant Wimberley area bridges and low-water crossings damaged by the Memorial Day weekend flood, the totaled Fischer Store Road bridge  and Hidden Valley Road low-water crossing  are the only that remain closed nearly three months later. Both of those structures were completely destroyed.Email | Print