In July, the Texas Department of Transportation will issue bids for the construction of a permanent bridge to be built next to the swing bridge, said Mark Wooldridge, an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation in Bay City.
In two years, when the new bridge is complete, the Texas Department of Transportation
will retire the more than 50-year-old swing bridge, Wooldridge
said.The five operators who man the bridge 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will transfer to the department's Bay City office.
A permanent bridge will save the state money because swing bridges have maintenance issues and the department has to pay for materials, equipment and labor, Wooldridge
"It's very expensive to operate," Wooldridge
said."It can cost $400,00 to $500,000 a year to run a swing bridge."
The $14.5 million project that is expected to begin by the end of summer will start saving the department money in about 10 years, Wooldridge
"It's a pretty direct payback," Wooldridge
The Matagorda bridge is one of two swing bridges along the Texas coast.The bridge in Sargent will remain because the beach on the east side of the bridge does not give engineers enough space for a conventional span, Wooldridge
Building a permanent bridge requires cars to drive 73 feet above ground, and to avoid an unsafe slope on the bridge, the bridge is extended about 30 feet past the waterway, Wooldridge
said.In Sargent, extending the bridge 30 feet would have cars driving into the Gulf of Mexico, he
admits some Matagorda residents will miss the swing bridge, but he
doesn't think the residents will reminisce about stopping at the bridge to wait for a barge or tugboat to pass, he