‘Historic natural disaster of epic proportion’ crumbles bridges

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The two bridges that collapsed into the Blanco River during this weekend’s floods were built to withstand a hundred-year flood, according to a Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson.

The Fischer Store Road bridge near Wimberley was built in 1991, according to federal data. The bridge on Ranch Road 165 in the Blanco area was built in 1994. Both had been inspected in the last two years, with the one on RR 165 having its last inspection in April, according to TxDOT. Both came crashing down.

TxDOT is assessing the damage and trying to gauge what it will take to put the bridges back in place.

“It was unimaginable until we drove down here Sunday morning daylight,” said Carroll Henry, who lives about 2.5 miles from the bridge on Fischer Store Road.

Carroll and Bonnie Henry say their trips to Austin will roughly double in distance. However, their thoughts are less about the time they’ll lose and more about those who died.

“I’m glad I can drive it,” said Carroll. “There are other people who lost all their homes and lost their loved ones. It’s hard to express.”

“This is a historic natural disaster of epic proportion,” said Veronica Beyer, a TxDOT spokespeson. “This water, with it’s force, actually took off houses from their foundations broke trees and other debris, carried other big items down the river.”

Engineers believe it was not only the water, but the debris that led the two bridges to fail. In fact, federal records show engineers thought the chances of water flowing over the top the bridges were so remote that it was not likely to happen in a hundred-year period.

Inspectors found both bridges in good condition during the last check detailed in federal records.

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