A new and safer County Road 295 bridge now crosses the Blanco River in Eastern Hays County. Hays County Leaders and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) cut the ribbon to open the bridge this week after a year of reconstruction. A year ago, the CR 295 Bridge was one of hundreds of bridges damaged or destroyed by summer floods. The bridge was overrun by flood waters, stripped of its asphalt surface and guard rails by debris from the river, but Hays County Judge Elizabeth “Liz” Sumter says “I was very proud of the partnership between Hays County and the state and federal government that brought the bridge back to life.”
Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe’s office initiated the “partnership” process approximately 4 years ago by applying for State monies allocated for replacement of bridges on County roads. This is a unique program that allows funds expended by Counties on local County bridges to be used as matching funds for other bridge projects that the State warrants as needing upgrading. The County Road 295, Old Martindale Road Bridge, met the State’s criteria with County matching funds coming from the replacement of a bridge near 5 Mile Dam. This effort made it possible for the County Road 295 bridge to be built without additional County funds being expended.
Hays County and TxDOT had plans to rebuild the old bridge before the flooding, but the flood waters washed away most of the Blanco River creek bed forcing TxDOT to go back and alter the design for CR 295. After six weeks of heavy rains, Commissioner Ingalsbe made the decision to close the bridge due to safety concerns and requested that TxDOT “fast-track” the process so construction could begin as soon as possible. TxDOT Area Engineer Don Nyland says his agency applied for funding from the Federal Bridge Rehabilitation Program which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration. The Bridge Rehab Program provides money to state transportation agencies to repair local bridges and road systems that do not belong to the state. TxDOT Area Engineer Don Nyland says, “A total of $680,000 was allocated from the Federal Bridge Rehab program to complete the CR 295 Bridge.”
The new two lane bridge now has guard rails that span the entire bridge, wider shoulders and improved visibility as drivers approach the bridge. With the improvements put in place by TxDOT, the bridge is now safer and will increase mobility in eastern Hays County. Hays County Precinct One Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe says, “The bridge was a very scary one to drive on, but we now have a great asset and safe structure for the residents of our county.”