Two petitions have been filed in regard to a half-mile section of County Road 3214 – one to keep the road closed to through traffic and one to re-open it.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ross said the bridge on CR 3214 has been in some form of disrepair since the late ’90s, and although that stretch of road has been opened to the public on occasion, it’s been closed for most of the last 13 years.
Last month Ross began working on that section of road, which runs parallel to Cuba Road just east of Bridgeport, and neighboring landowners filed a petition June 22 requesting the road not be re-opened.
“People have been on me ever since I’ve been here to re-open that bridge,” he said. “The road was horrible so we went out and tore the road out and was going to replace it down through there, and we got to thinking (we ought to go ahead and replace the bridge).
“It just so happened at the time the bridge builder (Steve Harris) called me, and said, ‘where do you want me to start?’” Ross said. “… the timing was great.”
Ross said he hoped to have the bridge open before the start of school. Harris has the county’s annual bridge contract, and he had moved equipment to the site. He was preparing for the job when Ross got word from County Judge Bill McElhaney to stop work.
In the meantime, Sonny Tackel, who lives on CR 3214, had filed a petition in the county judge’s office requesting this portion of road not be open to through traffic. It was signed by 30 people.
Sue Tackel, Sonny’s wife, said, “It seemed strange that they would build a bridge and open that up” since it had been closed for so long.
“There’s not much need to come here this long way instead of going down Cuba Road,” she said. “It had been closed for a long time … No one out here really needs it.
“We just thought it was a lot of money to build a bridge and repair (this section) of road that we didn’t think anyone wanted.”
Ross did not include the bridge in his 2011 annual road report, which estimates work for fiscal year 2012. The only bridges listed in the report are on County Roads 3840 and 3637 at a cost of $80,000 each.
Ross told the Messenger Thursday replacing the bridge on CR 3214 would cost $40,000 to $50,000, which does not include supplies. The money would come from the right-of-way fund, according to county Auditor Ann McCuiston.
Ross said when he notified Harris to stop work, Harris informed him that the bridge had already been removed.
“We’re not doing nothing out there (right now),” Ross said. “We just moved him to another bridge.”
Judge McElhaney had planned to address the petition at county commissioners’ July 16 meeting, but a cross petition protesting the first petition was filed in his office Tuesday. It was filed by David Carlton and signed by 44 people.
The judge decided commissioners should discuss both petitions at one time, and that is tentatively scheduled for their July 30 meeting. This will allow the second petition to be posted the minimum 20 days.
Carlton, who lives on Elm Circle, said opening the road “would be a convenience for everyone involved.”
“That road’s been open a hundred years,” he said. “I’ve got property on both sides of it … I cut hay out there, and I gotta go through downtown Bridgeport and the school zone with my hay equipment. It’s a hindrance to me not having it open.”
Ross said he thought if people are taking Cuba Road out to U.S. 380 or Texas 114, they might use CR 3214 to avoid traffic at the high school.
“When I put the gates up, I told them it would be re-opened at some point, and the landowner who filed the petition said he hoped it wasn’t in his lifetime,” Ross said.
Ross said he put the gates on either end of the closed section two or three years ago to deter kids from hanging out at the bridge and “doing stuff they weren’t supposed to.”
Landowners had access to the roadway, as did oil and gas companies that used it to access wells in the area.
The bridge was first closed in 1999 at the recommendation of the Texas Department of Transportation. County Engineer Chad Davis said that was the last year the bridge was inspected by the state agency.
Temporary repairs were made to the bridge, and it was re-opened for a period of time in late 2003 or early 2004, according to Ross, while repairs were made to the bridge on Cuba Road.
Ross said shortly after Cuba Road re-opened, he closed the bridge on CR 3214 again by dumping loads of gravel at each end.
“The road was open, but you couldn’t cross the bridge,” he said. Ross said people would flatten the piles of gravel and go across the bridge anyway.
In 2004, the Federal Highway Administration removed it from its list – a list that secured funding for its upkeep or reconstruction.
“If we completely replace it, we can petition them to get it put back on the inventory to have funds to rehab it in the future,” Davis said. “It’s important to get back on the list because 20 years from now, if we want to get a bridge worked on, we can get 80 percent from the FHA and 20 percent from TxDot.”