The Cow Bayou swing bridge is being restored to its original pre-World War II condition, meanwhile, drivers are going to take a detour.
The old bridge, which now takes travelers north on Texas 87, from Bridge City toward Orange, will be closed at night. The closing will be for the beginning of the restoration by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Eventually, the department will re-install red-green signal lights on the bridge, plus the swing arms to stop traffic, and the small control booth for the bridge tender, said Clark Slacum, local engineer for the transportation department.
Plans called for the detours to take place in January, Slacum said. But the contractor had to get custom-made, curved armor joints for the bridge’s surface. The restoration will include the contractor sawing across the bridge to remove the old metal armor joints from the concrete. Then, installing the new joints, and putting in new concrete.
Some of the removal of the concrete will leave holes, so for the daytime traffic, the holes will be covered with thick iron plates.
“We’re hoping people slow down,” Slacum said.
The swing bridge hasn’t been opened much in the past 30 years. The most recent times included twice for a yacht, and once after Hurricane Rita to let a utility boat go up the bayou, Slacum said. The Bridge City end of the bridge has shifted so much through the years that the highway department has to pour water on joints so they will cool and contract to allow the bridge to open, he said.
By the time the restoration is finished, the movable joints and the small engine that runs the opening and closing mechanisms will be in working order.  The contractor in charge of the projects estimates that the bridge repairs to be finished ahead of schedule.