Temporary bridge plan gets blocked, major roadway to remain closed

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A major roadway washed out by the Memorial Day flood will remain closed until next year.  A plan to create a temporary bridge over the Blanco River near Wimberley will not happen.

On the town square in Wimberley, the fall shopping season has arrived.  But along with the holiday pumpkin displays, there are still signs of how this community continues to recover from the devastating Memorial Day flood.

Shop manager Kathy Cima is proud of the progress that’s been made— even though she admits there are some who still have to be reminded the town is open for business

"That’s the biggest challenge, letting people now we are here, open ... ready for business. Love for people to come and visit Wimberley and see the rebuilding and just the resiliency for the people that live here,” Cima said.

Getting there along one route still isn't possible. Fisher Store Rd, just west of Wimberley, remains closed. The bridge was washed out by the floodwaters that surged down the Blanco River back in May.

Now, four months later, work on a replacement has not yet started.

County officials knew repairing the damage would not be an easy fix. The plan was to build a temporary bridge across the Blanco River until a new one could be built.

Tuesday, Hays County Commissioner Will Conley released a letter announcing a setback; the temporary bridge project isn’t going to happen. The county was unable to get permission from landowners to build a short-term detour.

"Every time we took two steps forward, we took four steps back and just couldn't come to a consensus with landowners and other obstacles that come up to make it happen,” Conley said, who added using Eminent Domain was not an option.

The Eminent Domain process, according to Conley, could take as much time as it would to build a new bridge. TX DOT is fast tracking the $2.4 million replacement project, but with work expected to last until March of 2016, Conley says he has met with public safety officials to make sure emergency response plans are in place.

"It’s more of a quality of life inconvenience issue right now, which I don’t want to minimize. It impacts kids going to school, people going to work, and that’s why we've worked so hard on it and just couldn't make that connection,” Conley said.

Upstream, another bridge replacement project will take a little longer.  The new $1.2 mill RM165 Bridge, just outside of the town of Blanco, will not be completed until next fall.