Towering cypress trees that had stood sentinel along the Blanco River in Wimberley for centuries were no match for the 40-foot or greater wall of water that transformed the stream into a torrent of death and destruction on Memorial Day Weekend of 2015.
But the water took out more than trees. A bridge on Fischer Store Road also fell victim. Though the structure spanning the Blanco River had stood since the 1990s with no water ever-encroaching on it, the Memorial Day
floodwaters transformed it into broken chunks of concrete, severely hampering the ability of residents in southwestern areas of Hays County to get where they needed to go. When the bridge went, it effectively increased a commute of around 10 minutes to 40 minutes or more.
None of that sat well with those elected to represent that area, among them then-Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley.
In fact, Conley began talking with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) about what could be done the Monday after. The hurry-up schedule put the project out for bids in just four months, with specifications that the new structure would be of the same height but would rest on supports designed to give it more strength and stability.
The replacement bridge fell under TxDOT’s Bridge Replacement Program, by which the state provides 90 percent of the funding. Hays County’s share in this case came to $295,000.
The bridge was an important connector for people on their way to work as well as for school buses, Conley pointed out at the time. Though he predicted it would be open by March of the next year it actually was rededicated on Feb. 27, 2016.
The new bridge was also the site of one of the numerous newer, better river gauges installed in the
wake of the catastrophic flood – in fact, the gauge even has a video camera, allowing real-time viewing
of current conditions.
The Fischer Store Road bridge was the biggest, but not the only, similar structure the floodwaters destroyed. Also affected were the Post Road crossing of the Blanco between San Marcos and Kyle and the FM 150 bridge at
Onion Creek in northern Hays County.