Groundbreaking celebrates Kingsland 2900 bridge construction



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By Lew K. Cohn
Managing Editor

Capital Excavation Company crews continued Sunday afternoon working on the south side of Ranch to Market Road 2900 to undertake what will be a monumental task — building a new 2900 bridge within 150 days.

On Friday, Texas Department of Transportation officials, along with state and local representatives from Llano County, held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate construction of the replacement bridge just three weeks after floodwaters washed away the former bridge.

The new perch bridge is expected to cost $17.3 million to build and could be completed and open to the public by April 2019 if all goes well, said TxDOT Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy, a Burnet County native. The contract was awarded to Capital Excavation within 15 days after TxDOT expedited the contract process. Incentives in the contract are available if Capital Excavation can build the bridge faster without compromising safety.

An emergency declaration allowed TxDOT to skip some of the typical processes and put the RM 2900 bridge on the fast track,” McCoy said. “We were able to draw design plans, accept bids and award a contract within 15 days of the bridge being washed out. In terms of typical construction, we moved at warp speed.”

McCoy said the new bridge will include 12-foot travel lanes, six-foot shoulders and a six-foot sidewalk. The center of the bridge will be higher than the ends, and at its highest point, the new bridge is expected to be about five-feet higher than the previous bridge. While the bridge is under construction, drivers are encouraged to use RM 1431 to access Kingsland.

RM 2900 is a critical corridor for the folks in Llano County and surrounding areas,” McCoy said. “The bridge carried more than 5,600 vehicles per day before it was washed away. The bridge will not only reconnect a community it will restore a key route for emergency responders.”

The Oct. 16 flood along the Llano River arm of Lake LBJ was the largest flooding event since 1935. At the height of flooding, the river was discharging an estimated 290,000 cubic feet of water per second and the force and height of the water are what caused the RM 2900 bridge to collapse.

State and local officials expressed their appreciation for the speed which TxDOT showed in working to get a new bridge built.

"Texans expect their elected officials to work together in times of need, and I am proud to be part of the effort to have the 2900 bridge in Kingsland rebuilt as quickly as possible,” said state Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway. “Over the next few months I will continue to work with TxDOT, as well as local leaders and our federal partners, to ensure recovery efforts adequately meet the needs of the communities affected by flooding."

While this structure is located in Llano County, it serves our region and is pivotal to our transportation grid,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who also serves on the Transportation Policy Board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), which oversees regional transportaiton planning. “We are all amazed at TxDOT’s response to replacing and even enhancing this bridge.

Within three weeks of the flood, TxDOT has re-engineered it and contracted with a renowned firm that is already on its fourth day of an estimated 150 day-construction duration that requires a 24/7 pace. That level of commitment to restoring our system is a testament to what Texans can accomplish when challenged.”

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