That’s what people are asking about the bridge over the Atascosa River on Good Hope Road in northern Live Oak County.
A county commissioner has raised concerns, as has a school bus driver; the state says the bridge is stronger than it looks, but an oil company has built a low-water crossing so that its heavy trucks don’t have to use it.
The bridge, a steel truss structure built in 1908, is rated for 20,000 pounds. Eighteen-wheelers weighing at least four times that much until recently regularly crossed it.
The guard hired to control traffic over the low-water crossing built by Pioneer Natural Resources Co., became so concerned that she put up a sign directing all truck traffic to use the crossing.
“I didn’t want to take a chance with school kids crossing on a bus,” said Sheri Shows, who put up the sign.
County Commissioner Emilio Garza brought up the issue at Friday’s commissioners court meeting.
“We’ve got a weight limit set by the state, but people just ignore it,” Garza said. “We need to do something before something really serious happens.”
Dickie Rodriguez, transportation director for the Three Rivers Independent School District, said the driver of the bus that uses the bridge has expressed some concern about it.
“I know that bridge. It’s an old bridge,” he said. “I hate that our buses go out over that.”
He said he plans to take TRISD Superintendent Kenneth Rohrbach out to the site, so he can see it for himself.
District bridge engineer Anthony Villareal with the Texas Department of Transportation said he was aware of the issue.
Although the bridge is “in fantastic shape,” he said, “it can’t handle loads like that much longer.”
The bridge, which was reinforced by the county eight years ago, is scheduled to be replaced in the fall of 2013, he said.
Garza and Shows both said that use of the Pioneer crossing is supposed to be limited only to vehicles traveling to Pioneer leases. That was decreed by the landowners who allowed Pioneer to build the crossing, they said.
But, with prospects of law enforcement monitoring use of the bridge remote because of limited resources, and concerns over the strength of the bridge, Shows said she is trying to direct all 18-wheel traffic to the low-water crossing.
She said at least 100 trucks come through her crossing a day.
“The other morning, I had 100 trucks in seven hours,” she said.