bridge has not been condemned, the road isn't being widened and as far as
we know, neither bridge nor road are included in the highway expansion projects
of NAFTA. But the money seems to be there, so why not spend it?
County Commissioner who has signed the death warrant has said he is "progressive."
While that sounds nice, so did "Urban Renewal" in its day. If you're too
young to remember urban renewal, it was a period in the late 50s, throughout the
60s, and into the 70s when buildings were removed because they looked old and
that embarrassed "progressive" people. Go to the cities and look at the gaping
holes where buildings once stood. In many cases there are no holes because entire
blocks were leveled. Progress was counted in increased parking spaces.
This very year, which people are celebrating as the new millennium, what theme
does the LCRA choose for their calendar? Bridges. What could they have been thinking?
And most of the featured bridges are old and un-progressive looking. The Commissioner
is no doubt embarrassed for them.
symbolism of bridges is universal. They represent solutions, compromise, success
and overcoming obstacles. This bridge, which will fall somewhere around its
80th birthday, could be made structurally sound for a lot less than the cost
of a new bridge.
from now, residents of both Colorado and Fayette counties can go
to their respective museums, (if they haven't been consolidated into one huge
one in Austin) and see photos of the old bridges and wonder what happened to them.
The answer will probably be - "they were determined to be unsafe and ugly and
were replaced by edict of progressive county commissioners."
We spoke with Steve Sadowsky of the Texas Department of Transportation,
Environmental Affairs Division, who is actually an Architectural Historian.
Steve returned our call promptly and answered all of our questions and more. He
explained that TxDot's evaluation of the bridge showed that repairs made to the
bridge over the years, have compromised it's integrity. Officially it "doesn't
function as a truss." TxDot can only report their findings. The ultimate
decision rests with Colorado County and their progressive commissioners. Mr. Sadowsky
said that he has received more letters about this bridge than any other in recent
memory. Please direct your letters to Colorado County and stop bothering Steve.
to State statistics, Texas has 48,500 bridges - more than any other
state. One third are on county and city roads. By the end of this year, TxDoT
hopes to have maps available on the Internet so that bridge locations and weight
limits are immediately available to anyone. Funding for county and city bridge
improvements has nearly doubled from 26 million dollars last year to over 50 million
dollars this year.
has proposed a plan to speed upgrades so that 7,200 bridges can be brought up
to "school bus" standards sooner. Work on the Ehlinger Road bridge is
scheduled for sometime late this summer.
Our thanks to Fayetteville
Historian Louis Polansky for making us aware of the Ehlinger Bridge and for
driving us to, from and over the span, so that we could write this article.
also to Steve Sadowsky for returning our call, answering our questions and telling
us about other bridge projects that TxDot is involved in that should result in