FROM SUBMITTED REPORTS
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said the county will no longer pursue construction of a temporary Fischer Store Road bridge because officials found “a new obstacle at every turn” including landowners who would not make their property available for the structure and unspecified issues that made construction “impractical.”
“We have now reached a time when we must cease dedicating resources to a project that grown in cost, still has obstacles in its path, and has, because of the accelerated schedule of permanent bridge project, lost its utility,” Conley wrote.
A permanent replacement for the bridge, which was destroyed May 23 in the Memorial Day weekend flood, is expected to be completed as early as March 2016; TxDOT awarded a $1,532,523 contract on Sept. 4 to Austin-based Dan Williams Co. for construction of the permanent bridge. Consequently, the temporary bridge would have had a lifespan of only about two months, Conley wrote.
Full text of Conley’s statement:
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Since the morning after the Memorial Day flood event, the county has made the Fischer Store Road bridge project (both temporary and permanent) a daily priority. A tremendous amount of time and resources have gone into finding a solution to this important transportation issue. We all understand how important this is for the public safety and the quality of life in this area of Hays County. We immediately moved forward to rebuild the permanent bridge while working toward a temporary bridge to relieve transportation needs in the interim. I am writing to report on these two projects as they stand today.
As of this week, the county will no longer pursue completion of the temporary bridge project. After working with many owners since the date of the flood, we haven’t been able to work past the many obstacles presented by a temporary solution. In some instances, private property owners had no interest in offering their properties for public use. When we sought other routes, we identified issues during our due diligence that made construction impractical. It was extremely frustrating for everyone who has worked on this temporary bridge project, to work so diligently only to find a new obstacle at every turn. You have my assurance that we have done everything in our power to accomplish the goal. We have discussed the temporary bridge project with representatives in state and federal government. We have looked into all options available in the private sector. We have now reached a time when we must cease dedicating resources to a project that grown in cost, still has obstacles in its path, and has, because of the accelerated schedule of permanent bridge project, lost its utility.
The scone project, the permanent bridge structure along the old alignment, was negotiated with TxDOT the morning after the event. Hays County and TxDOT worked together to set an opening date for the permanent bridge project by the anniversary of the Memorial Day flood event (May 2016). That project has now gone through letting an I am happy to report that it will be brought in ahead of schedule. Our latest discussions with TxDOT indicate that we could have the Fischer Store Road bridge reopened by March 2016. Project construction should start soon. As long as weather cooperates, we feel confident that we can get this one within the timeline discussed.
As you can see this area has been a priority for Hays County. While we failed to get going on the temporary project, the accelerated scheule on the permanent project means that a temporary bridge would have served the public for about two months. We are doing our best to manage the issue and get our citizens’ life back in order to the bet of our ability. I spoke with our law enforcement, EMS and fire department this morning. We are managing these issue well in the interim and are fortunate to have so many great people working to keep us safe. The main issue will continue to be the quality of life as we keep moving toward a permanent fix to the bridge failure. Please bear with me as we work to recover from this life-changing event that has affected us all.