If you live or work in, or just travel through the Montgomery area, you know that the Buffalo Springs bridge over the canal near Waterstone has been out of commission for the last year.
Buffalo Springs Bridge Repair Set To Start November 2017
If you live or work in, or just travel through the Montgomery area, you know that the Buffalo Springs bridge over the canal near Waterstone has been out of commission for the last year. The bridge, which connects FM 1097 to Lonestar Parkway and Hwy 105, was closed last May after the record setting Tax Day and Memorial Day floods, causing frustration for local homeowners and other residents who now have to detour around the closure and worry about declining property values. If you're like me, you're probably wondering when it will be repaired and why it's taking so long. In an effort to update residents and community developers on the status of this project, a City Neighborhood Meeting was held in Montgomery on Wednesday evening, May 30. The Mayor of Montgomery, Kirk Jones and some members of the city council and/or City Planning and Zoning Commission were in attendance, along with local residents and community members affected by the bridge closure.
Ed Shackelford, Sr. VP and Chris Roznovsky, Project Engineer with Jones|Carter, the city engineers in charge of this project, explained to those in attendance the complex and lengthy task of getting this project approved and funded. They presented visual drawings, budget details and a timeline for the repairs and improvements needed to help prevent similar damage in the future. According to Roznovsky, the bridge itself is structurally sound. It’s the surrounding road, bulkheading, canal lining and embankments on the northwest and southwest sides of the bridge that have been damaged and eroded due to the massive amounts of water rushing through during the floods. Additionally, the canal east of the bridge, running along the south side of the Waterstone subdivision, was overrun with approximately 40,000 cubic yards of silt, according to Shackelford. Since this part of the canal is privately owned, removal of the silt is not included in the budget or plans for repairs and a solution to this part of the problem is not yet clear.
The bridge and surrounding damage, however, is slated to be repaired, upgraded and back in service by February of 2018. That is, assuming all goes according to plans for FEMA to take on and advance fund 75% of the $1.6 million dollar price tag, with the other 25% coming from a Texas Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Relief. There are still some additional hurdles that need to be cleared before FEMA will approve the funding, including an environmental review and permits from the Army Corp of Engineers. And assuming funding is approved, there is an issue with getting the funds from FEMA advanced so that construction can begin. If this is not the case, the city is faced with trying to figure out an alternative way to fund the project in advance while waiting on FEMA funds to show up.
As far as why it has taken a year to figure all of this out, there is no definitive single answer to that question. It was mentioned that several internal personnel changes within FEMA may have contributed. Additionally, city officials are faced with having to work within other state and federal government guidelines and timetables. Although local residents did display their frustrations at the meeting, I think everyone realizes that this is a challenging project for all involved, caused by an unprecedented weather event. Let’s just hope that state and federal government entities will come through and provide the necessary funds to finally get this project done.
If you would like a copy of the presentation from the meeting, email me at email@example.com. For additional information and up to date news on this project, feel free to attend Montgomery City Council meetings held at 6:00 P.M. on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the Month at City Hall, located at 101 Old Plantersville Rd, Montgomery, TX 77356.
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