Late July is the timeframe state officials aim to completely repair, and possibly reopen, the RM 150 low water crossings over Onion Creek near Driftwood.
In the interim, Hays County leaders are also identifying ways to prevent large load vehicles from traveling through the crossings, which they point to as a partial reason for the damage.
Walt Smith, Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner, said the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which owns that stretch of RM 150, plans to work with its current concrete contractors to repair the damage partially caused by flooding in early May.
TxDOT also plans to resurface the pavement at the low water crossing as well. It is unknown at this time the total cost for the repair.
Smith said TxDOT and Hays County officials in recent weeks discussed ways to mitigate the issue, which included an option to possibly build a new bridge or crossing over Onion Creek.
However, that option would have taken more than a year to complete and required for RM 150 to be closed for a “substantial amount of time,” Smith said. State officials would have been required to identify funding for the proposed new crossing as well.
An option to reuse an existing bridge constructed out of rail cars, a structure used to bridge Post Road over the Blanco River following the Memorial Day flood, was nixed as well. Smith said TxDOT would have had to construct new infrastructure, which would have added four or more months to complete.
TxDOT amending its current contract with its paving and concrete contractor allowed officials to address the problem “sooner rather than later,” Smith said.
Repairing the crossing is critical for county leaders as area roads are experiencing a significant increase in traffic. Smith, who lives in Driftwood, said he has traveled along Lone Man Mountain Road, which is a route around the closure, seven times in the last two days. Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones posted on social media that the RM 150 closure is causing “significant” traffic increases on FM 1626 and FM 967 in the Buda area.
“The longer that bridge is shut down, the more stress we’re putting on county roads that were not built for that kind of traffic,” Smith said.
As TxDOT repairs the damage, Hays County officials are urging residents to refrain from crossing barricades near the crossing. Smith said county officials will provide more information as it becomes available from TxDOT.
County officials have also worked in concert with TxDOT to address safety worries about large vehicles traveling on RM 150.
In March, a vehicle upward of 1 million pounds overturned at the Double Crossings, leading authorities to close the road for several hours. Authorities have been dispatched to the double crossings for an overturned truck, 18-wheeler or a large vehicle six to eight times over the past year.
Smith said that incident “helped to prompt the damage exacerbated by the flood.”
“Those roadways were never built to take a heavy load like that,” Smith said.
After the March incident, Hays County officials met with TxDOT to address the issue. Smith said TxDOT agreed to not permit similar large load vehicles from traveling on that section of FM 150 in the future. Smith said along with increased congestion and safety issues to commuters, problems with larger loads included the possible delay of emergency services.
“We have had some discussions with TxDOT about that and they were responsive and they understood what we were talking about,” Smith said.