AUSTIN, Texas - The decades-old Montopolis Bridge might be getting some upgrades.
Renderings from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority's Monday board meeting gave an idea of what those changes might look like. The organization is looking at adding seating areas, lighting, sound systems, and signage that educates the public about the Montopolis neighborhood as well as the bridge.
TXDOT owns the bridge and officials have kept up with basic maintenance. But if the proposed changes come through, the bridge could become somewhat of a tourist attraction. "The goal is to provide a landmark for East Austin," said Mike Sexton, director of engineering, CTRMA.
"This bridge was completed in 1938 and served as the primary gateway into Southeast Travis County for many years," said Dr. Fred McGhee, historian and author of "Austin’s Montopolis Neighborhood."
Depending on who you ask, change can be good, but McGhee is just hoping officials do this the right way, throughout the entire process. He says the Montopolis Neighborhood Association has not gotten any kind of notice.
"I hope the board of the CTRMA will direct the staff to speak to the people. Stop having meetings with the usual suspects, find out upon whom you are exercising power and what their perspectives are," he said.
McGhee is a stakeholder himself and is raising a family here. He doesn't oppose the changes to the bridge, but he is hoping it doesn't lead to community disengagement, and the community losing its voice.
The CTRMA said they have reached out to the community earlier in the process but they plan to do more of it later. "We worked hard to preserve the Montopolis Negro School, we have a lot of heritage in our community and we want to preserve that heritage," said McGhee.
Renderings: Courtesy of TBG Partners