COVER: Pam Kirkland and Marth Knies hang banners on June 26 on the Ranch Road 12-Cypress Creek bridge near the village square. PHOTO by JOCELYN AUGUSTINO
FROM STAFF REPORTS
NEAR FISCHER — The Texas Department of Transportation hired a contractor on Thursday to rebuild the Fischer Store Road bridge destroyed by a flood in the Blanco River basin about three and a half months ago.
Austin-based Dan Williams Co. submitted the low bid of $1,532,523, about 38 percent less than TxDOT’s most recent estimate of $2,473,595. The final pricetag appears likely to be in the $2 million range when $450,000 for engineering, design and contingencies is included.
“Rebuilding after this tragedy is a team effort. We appreciate TXDOT working with us to make this a priority so that our affected citizens can return to their normal lives as quickly as possible,” Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said.
TxDOT has established a timetable of 82 working days from start to completion. In a best case scenario, the bridge would be open to traffic on Feb. 2 if construction begins by Oct. 1. Rainfall, however, is nearly certain to slow work by weeks if not by months.
During the last decade, Wimberley averaged 12 days with at least a half-inch of precipitation between October and March, according to the National Climate Data Center; the Wimberley area saw an average of 20 additional days of at least one-tenth of an inch during the same six-month periods.
Since the flood, Comal County emergency service districts have been covering southwestern Hays County residents who are now too far removed from Wimberley to rely on the Wimberley Fire Department and Wimberley EMS.
In mid-August, Conley had said he was optimistic that a temporary bridge could be in place by mid-October; in a statement issued late Friday, the commissioner attempted no prediction, saying only that “the county continues to pursue the possibility of installing a temporary bridge.”
Across the county, in the northernmost reaches of San Marcos, Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant has said he is also exploring interim options for Post Road where the flood took out the low-lying bridge immediately downstream of Five Mile Dam.
On July 14, the Hays County Commissioners Court approved a funding agreement with TxDOT under which the county will not be required to contribute to the $1.6 million cost of a new bridge. The local-state arrangement on Post Road is similar in that respect to the local-state arrangement on Fischer Store Road.
However, the state does not plan to award a construction contract for the Post Road bridge until June 2016 and is only “tentatively” scheduled to do so then, according to TxDOT’s procurement schedule. If their respective schedules hold, work on a new Fischer Store Road bridge will be completed before work on a new Post Road bridge even begins.
UPDATE 10:17 a.m. SATURDAY, SEPT. 5: The story has been revised throughout to include more detail on the Fischer Store Road bridge replacement project and an updated on the Post Road bridge replacement project.
CORRECTION 11:46 p.m. SEPT. 10: A photo cutline that accompanied this story stated incorrectly that the “Wimberley Strong” flag was adopted as the official flag of Wimberley.
CORRECTION 8:15 a.m. SEPT. 23: Due to a typographical error, an earlier version of this story said TxDOT has tentatively scheduled to award of a contract for a replacement Post Road bridge in June 2015. It is currently tentatively scheduled for June 2016.Email | Print