HAMMETT'S CROSSING BRIDGE?
3, 2007 Update:
download and sign this
petition, get everyone you know to sign it too, then
send it back to the address on the bottom. Or, sign the on-line
bridge petition then pass the link along to your friends. Thanks.
November 28th, we received an email from Steve Manilla, the
Travis County engineer for this area, with a clarification.
Attached to his email were the minutes to
a meeting of county and state representatives that had been
held on November 15th.
In response to Steve's email and the attached minutes, I sent
I knew about the historical designation efforts (getting
a few things wrong myself). Our neighbor sue Barnett also responded
to set the record straight and he wrote back. Here's Sue's
note with Steve's response.
day last week, while on our morning walk, Annie and I encountered
2 guys who had parked their white (unmarked) SUV on the Hammett's
Crossing bridge. One of them had a badge hanging from his
pocket that said Texas Department of Transportation. The
other had no such badge (probably because he had remembered
to remove his while the other guy hadn't). I asked what they
were doing there and they told us that they were surveyors,
there to survey the bridge.
concerned that they might be trying to do something stupid,
like build a new bridge, I sounded the neighborhood alarm and
Christy Muse of the Hill
Country Alliance got right on it and made some calls. But
she had to leave town so Nell Penridge took over the research.
From emails and discussions with Michael Aulick at the City
of Austin, Steven Sheibel in Senator Kirk Watson's office,
Senator Watson himself, Steven Manila at Travis County (512-854-9429),
Bob Daigh at TxDOT and Joe Perez, TxDOT's design manager for
the proposed project (512-832-7092), here's what Nell found
feds have a mechanism to fund the replacement of "structurally
deficient and functionally obsolete bridges". Apparently,
the Hammett's bridge has been accused of being the latter.
our little historic bridge, which has been pounded by the Pedernales
since it was built by neighbors in 1924, is still in fine shape.
Even the record-setting 1950s flood, when an immense wall of
water and logs came crashing downstream, taking out huge cypresses
and the entire pecan bottom adjacent to the crossing, was unable
to damage that stalwart bridge. But, because it has
inadequate side rails and the approaches are curvey, it is
slated for replacement.
plan, according to TxDOT's Joe Perez, is to build a new, two
lane bridge, "adjacent
to and slightly upstream of the existing crossing." The
intent is to eliminate the switchbacks on both sides of the river.
told Nell that the alignment will not be established until
the survey data is all in so all this conjecture might be
premature but if eliminating all the switchbacks is the goal,
I just do not see how situating the new bridge upstream of the
12, 2007 - Surveying preparations are moving too quickly. What ever
happened to the old TxDOT who we could count on to drag out any project
for as much as 10 years? Have they finished Ben White and I-35 yet?
green arrow wouldn't even eliminate the east side switchback
but it would cut out the big west approach curve.
the left is an aerial view of the crossing. The river runs
from bottom to top (the bottom of the map is upstream).
It looks to me like the place I drew in the red arrow is
really bypass all the switchbacks. But that is substantially
downstream of the existing bridge.
Blue arrow would put the new bridge upstream of the existing
bridge and would cut out
one mother of a switch-back on the east side of the river,
as well as the curve on the west side bridge approach.
idea is not to remove the old bridge but to make it a pedestrian
walkway. This is scary. Right now, the main pedestrian
use of the bridge is by Annie and me, our neighbors John
Hillary and occassional tourists who must park illegally
to walk there. Does this projected pedestrian bridge get
a parking lot now? If so, where? I just don't see a lot
of room for one unless they are planning to condemn more
for that use. That could be an invitation to trespassers
around here. And if they are not planning parking, could
they be making the pedestrian bridge for we four daily
walkers? Somehow I doubt it.
matter how you slice it, all this construction and land condemnation
would cost big bucks, right? But Nell's sources have told
her that the entire budget for this project is just $1,000,000.
Doesn't seem like enough to buy the land, let alone build
a huge bridge. And the federal dollars are only available
for bridges, not road work, so any work beyond the immediate
bridge approaches would have to be funded by the state or
we hadn't run into those surveyors, we probably would still
not know anything about this project, even though it has
been in the works since TxDOT went to the Travis County Commissioners
for permission in July. Pretty hush hush for a public works
project, no? I suspect they've been trying to sneak this
under the radar. In fact, when Nell called Senator Watson's
office, she found out that, even though the Senator is
chair of CAMPO, he knew nothing about this stealth project.
He did find out pretty quickly after that though, and
sent this email to a couple of people in response to their
federal program would provide 80% of the bridge replacement
cost. Under the plan, the state would pay 10% and the county
would be responsible for 10%. Now, where will TxDOT, the
agency that cannot build any more roads that are not tolled,
find their portion of the funding? And where will the Travis
County Commissioners, who constantly plead poverty, find
I find it totally outrageous that anyone might budget a
project of this magnitude at just $1,000,000.
The owners of Las Manitas have projected a higher budget
than that just to move their restaurant into new digs
that they already own! And they have created this budget
without even knowing where the bridge is going to go. I smell
bait and switch. You know the routine - begin by lowballing
then the overruns begin.
more things: Joe Perez told Nell that "there will be opportunity
for public input in several months" and TxDOT told Senator
Watson that "if the county does not want the improvements
to be made, TxDOT will back off."
let's keep an eye on this and make sure that nothing else
gets snuck past us again.