ORANGE COUNTY -- County commissioners are working out a possible deal with the Texas Department of Transportation to repair one of the two swing bridges in the county.
The county cannot afford the estimated $20 million it would take to replace the old swing bridge that spans over Cow Bayou, on East Roundbunch Road, so they're getting creative. County planners are asking for cooperation in much needed repairs on the bridge that has served the community since the 1940's.
Peggy Albair, or Miss Peggy as she is known, has owned a business by the old swing bridge on East Roundbunch Road for more than 20 years. First a seafood market and now Peggy's on the Bayou a restaurant. She says she worries about that bridge, "It definitely needs to be repaired to where it's safer for anybody to go through and not worry if that bridge is gonna fall down or not."
Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux tells 12 News HD, "We had a bridge inspection done by TX DOT and there were some issues with the bridge that need to be repaired. The bridge is still safe, but 10 to 15 years from now, it won't be."
The bridge is still very busy and even opens 40 to 50 times a month to let boats go under. But replacing it came with a approximate $18 million price tag and is too expensive for the county. So they've requested a deal with TX DOT. In the deal, Orange County pays 10%, TX DOT pays 10% and 80% of the cost would come from federal funds. TX DOT would do the construction. In the proposed deal, with Hurricane Ike funds, Orange County will repair 11 culverts, several on Bessie Heights Rd., and two bridges at a cost of 1.8 million, equaling their 10% of the swing bridge construction.
Judge Thibodeaux tells 12 News HD, "We're all working together for the same thing. That's for the public and this will increase transportation safety. Plus it's going to improve the infrastructure for Orange County."
When construction starts, Miss Peggy says Just follow her on facebook and she will make sure you have directions to get around the construction. She tells 12 News HD, "I'll probably be putting on there. You can't go this way, but you can go that way and direct them how to get over here. But we will be glad when the roads get fixed." Miss Peggy says she even has an app for that, as well. And even though it may be an inconvenience during the construction, it will be better for everyone in the long run.
If TX-DOT approves the deal, the county will replace and repair those 11 culverts and two bridges with Ike money. That project will take two to three years. Meanwhile, Judge Thibodeaux says, TX-DOT is doing an extensive repair study on the bridge in preparation for construction.
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