COVER: Ruins of the Post Road bridge at the Blanco River in northern San Marcos. PHOTO by ANDY HEATWOLE. © 2015, SAN MARCOS PHOTOS
Mapby BRAD ROLLINS With construction of a permanent replacement not expected to begin until sometime next summer, Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant says he is moving quickly to build a temporary crossing where floodwaters destroyed the Post Road-Blanco River bridge on May 24.
On Sept. 15, the commissioners court authorized Hays County Judge Bert Cobb to amend an existing contract with engineering firm Bowman Consulting Group to include the Post Road project. The company recently completed plans for a temporary Fischer Store Road bridge.
Under contract terms approved last week, Bowman has until Dec. 31 to complete its design of a temporary Post Road bridge. However, Whisenant said on Wednesday he anticipates completion considerably sooner, possibly in a week or two.
Even though a temporary bridge would have to be dismantled before construction could start on a permanent replacement, Whisenant said the investment is worthwhile for residents of far northern San Marcos who are inconvenienced — and possibly endangered — by an impassable Blanco River. TxDOT’s procurement schedule tentatively anticipates letting the construction contract for a permanent bridge in June 2016.
“That particular location bears as much attention as any location in my precinct,” Whisenant said.
A week ago, the commissioner met in San Marcos with residents of the Blanco River Ranch Estates subdivision who have said they are concerned about the consequences of another natural disaster such as the 2011 wildfire that forced evacuation of their neighborhood and others along Post Road.
“Certainly there is an inconvenience factor, but our big issue is really safety … If we have to evacuate again, we have no other alternative. It’s either Aquarena [Springs Drive] or nothing,” said Laura Oles who noted that imminent construction of a railroad overpass will inflame the already congested Post Road-Aquarena Springs Drive intersection.
Homeowners association president Julie Watkin said her cardiologist husband’s 12-minute commute to Seton Medical Center Hays in Kyle has been stretched to 35 minutes assuming he is not slowed by street traffic or freight trains. The additional drive-time could potentially place his patients in danger, she said.
Said Cobb, “I think what these people are saying is: ‘Expedite it.’ We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Fischer Store Road bridge
Also on Sept. 15, the commissioners court invited construction contractors to submit proposals for the Fischer Store Road temporary bridge, which calls for building a spur between Fischer Store Road north of the Blanco River to Haschke Lane south of the river. A bridge fashioned from four flat-bed railcars would span the river.
Prospective contractors must submit proposals by 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.
Under performance measures outlined in bid documents, the county expects its contractor to submit final design details within 10 days of being awarded the contract by the commissioners court; construction is be completed within 30 days of those final designs being approved.