WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — Roads remain a big problem in Hays County following the Memorial Weekend floods. County officials say there are at least five low water crossings in need of repairs, but the biggest inconvenience is the lack of Fischer Store Road bridge. The flood demolished the concrete structure only leaving pillars and slabs of concrete on the side.
Tuesday Hays County Commissioners discussed the cost of rebuilding the bridge and a temporary solution.
“We’re hoping to have the permanent bridge in a year, if not sooner, that’s very ambitious in the world of bridge building,” said Will Conley, Hays County Commissioner Precinct 3. “We want to have an interim solution as well — to try and connect and have mobility for that large section of southwestern Hays County as soon as we possibly can.”
The County is designing the temporary bridge right now with Bowman Construction. County officials say the company is waiving the design costs, but the temporary bridge made out of boxcars could cost $15,000.
“It’s more expensive to lease them [boxcars] because of the transporting costs, to lease them and have them shipped rather than just buying them out right,” explaiend Conley. “We could buy them and then use those assets for future needs on low water crossings and bridges in Hays County.”
Hays County owns and maintains the bridge, but hopes to get reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help cover the cost of replacing the bridge.
People in Wimberley who live on the west side of the Blanco River have to drive about 40 minutes to get into town compared to the 15 minutes it took when the bridge was up.
“I live less than a mile that way and it takes 58 mile round trip to come over here and work right now,” said Mark Lundy, a contractor who is working on homes destroyed by the flood. “It’s just an extra hour in my day I have to spend getting over here and today they were working on the main bridge in Wimberley, so that added another 20 minutes getting over here with traffic delays.”
The County is also concerned about response time for emergency crews since they would have to take the long route to respond to an emergency. During Commissioner’s Court, officials said the Hays County Sheriff’s Office had placed some deputies in the area around the clock as a precaution.
“We know it’s going to be a time consuming process, but I know everybody on this side of town needs to get to town and they’re doing a lot of their business in Canyon Lake and elsewhere, but that’s a long drive too, for those of us that live and work on this road it’s a pretty big deal,” said Lundy.
When it comes to the permanent bridge, Conley expects it will cost at least $1.5 million
Ranch Road 12 is passable, but as crews make repairs to the bridge, they have to shut down lanes.