In January of this year, San Patricio County Pct. 4 Commissioner Howard Gillespie and County Engineer John Hernandez began their work to repair two bridges located on County Road 1360 near Taft – one about 165 feet long and another about 90 feet long.
The bridges are mostly used by farmers and ranchers who live in the area, but drive heavy equipment across them.
“The two bridges need to be re-decked,” Gillespie said at the time. “They’ve got asphalt on top of them, so we’re going to take that off and we’re going to put new long timbers down.”
In order to get proper measurements, the commissioner and engineer suited up in waist-high waders and battled freezing water and thick mud.
But when they actually stripped the asphalt they discovered a bigger problem.
“We pulled all the seal coat and asphalt off the first smallest bridge, and the decking underneath of it is completely rotten,” Gillespie said. “I have to go out there and get some lumber special ordered. That’s going to cost about $28,000.”
That was the original price tag for repairing both bridges.
Also, while the project was only going to take a little over a month to complete, that timeline has now grown significantly longer. The commissioner said he’s getting quotes for the lumber which could cost about $43 a board, and they need 630 of them. Even once they’re ordered, it will take around four to five weeks to be delivered.
Last Monday, Gillespie was happy to announce that the project could commence.
“We’ve got the timbers in for the bridge on (County Road) 1360,” he said. “We started clearing things away today.
“We’re mobilizing today and then we’re going to start rebuilding the bridge.”
Earlier this year, Gillespie said that they will wait until next winter to repair the other bridge since this bridge caused so many issues and ran over budget.
He added, “We’re going to plan it a little better now that we know what we might find underneath.”