Story by Crystal Gottfried
Photo by Aron Brown
Commissioners approved County Engineer Tom Hornseth’s proposal that would enable the county to complete five bridge projects for the cost of one.
The set of proposals that Hornseth presented at Commissioners Court last Thursday would utilize federal money that the Texas Department of Transportation has made available to Comal County to replace up to five of the county’s substandard box culverts or bridges for about $350,000.
Each year, Hornseth’s office creates a list of priority road and bridge projects for TxDOT that includes “off-system” bridges that are not on the road network for the state’s traffic planners. County bridges are evaluated every two years and prioritized in terms of “repair or replacement.”
This year, about $3.5 million that was earmarked for Bexar County bridges was available to Comal County because Hornseth’s office was ready to go on the bridge projects when he was contacted by TxDOT, and Bexar County was not.
Four of the bridge projects in Comal would be Rebecca Creek Road at the Guadalupe River; Spring Branch Road at Cypress Creek; Little Ponderosa at the Guadalupe River; and Coyote Run at the Dry Comal Creek tributary.
These projects generally involve a 10 percent match for the county’s share of the projects, or in this instance, about $350,000, but Hornseth said TxDOT could waive the local match if the county uses the waived funds for other similar projects.
Under these conditions, the state would benefit because it would not have to participate in the subsequent project that the county pays for.
Hornseth named Rolling Creek/Fawn Lane at Swine Creek or Schwab Road at the Dry Comal Creek tributary as part of this agreement with TxDOT.
According to Hornseth, the county would have to complete the fifth project within three years to meet the terms of the agreement; but that’s not the problem – deciding which bridge project to complete would be.
Whichever project commissioners choose to complete first, they both need to be done.
County Judge Danny Scheel will provide the letter to TxDOT requesting the waiver and Hornseth assured the judge that his office was acting quickly to be able to take advantage of the state’s offer.