GATESVILLE — City, state and county officials met last week to try and resolve differences over plans to replace a historic bridge over the Leon River.
At issue is whether the city will have to move water and sewer lines to accommodate the construction.
Built in 1904, the steel structure with wooden planks spans the river at the west end of Leon Street, a route once known as Old Georgetown Road, according to a state historical marker next to the bridge erected in 1994.
The relic structure, which replaced older bridges dating back to the 1850s, is due to be replaced by the Texas Department of Transportation with a newer, wider bridge.
The replacement is needed, TxDOT officials argued, to provide a reliable alternate east-west route across the Leon if a larger bridge on nearby U.S. Highway 84 is closed or blocked.
“The city is interested in a new bridge if we can keep our utility bridge intact,” said Gatesville City Manager Roger Mumby.
The utility bridge that parallels the old steel bridge a few yards to the north supports city water and sewer lines that cross the river.
A TxDOT plan to double the width and straighten the road bridge to eliminate a 90-degree turn would require moving the utility bridge, Mumby said, which would cost the city an estimated $440,000.
“We are not willing to do that,” Mumby said. “If we have to move the utilities to replace the bridge, then don’t replace it.”
The estimated cost of replacing the old road bridge is about $750,000, he said. The city’s share of that cost is 10 percent, or about $75,000.
“We offered (a plan) to have the new bridge go around to the north of the utilities,” he said. “The city owns the property on both sides, so easement is not a problem.”
While the idea of replacing the bridge is not new, he said, the idea of moving the utilities bridge is a recent wrinkle.
“We have been talking about this issue for the last six or seven years,” Mumby said, “but this is the first time TxDOT had a number on moving the utilities.”
Coryell County Judge John Firth, who attended the Wednesday meeting, said the city’s alternate proposal “could work out well if TxDOT can do it for a reasonable amount of money.”
A phone call to a TxDOT spokesman was not returned Friday.
“We are batting around the alternatives,” Mumby said. “This isn’t going to be resolved any time soon. If this happens at all it won’t be before 2017.”