The Cow Bayou Bridge has room to swing. A snug joint was widened to 3 1/4 inches resolving the problem. But it required historic ingenuity.

A newly fabricated curved armor joint needed to be created that was exactly as the bridge’s original. It fit the historic bridge perfectly.

The first phase in a three phase rehabilitation plan by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to restore the pre-WW II era swing bridge is being completed this week.

The project has been undertaken at night with north bound Texas 87 traffic detoured between the hours of 7 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Illuminated by flood lights, the Cow Bayou Bridge was swung open Thursday evening. Silent for years, the horn sounded three times across the bayou as the old bridge quietly opened without difficulty. By morning she was back in operation and the new armor joint had been welded in place. A small section of the bridge decking had been shaved to allow the joint extra room. In the past, heat caused the bridge deck to swell and the joint would jam.

 Future work is to consist of repairs to the center bearing swing mechanism that drives the bridge and a key component that makes it unique and historically significant. According to Clark Slacum, TxDOT Orange area engineer, a consultant in moveable bridge technology will assist in the second phase of construction. The second phase will also include refurbishing the traffic barriers and the addition of signal lights.

 Slacum said that a third phase will enhance the cosmetic appearance of the bridge.
In 1990 the Cow Bayou Bridge became eligible for listing in the National Registry of Historic places as an historic bridge.

The Bridge City Citizens for Historic Preservation has hired cultural resources specialist Anna Mod from SWCA Environmental Consultants of Houston. Mod is researching and documenting the history of the bridge to acquire the listing in the National Registry. The committee wants to have the history finished by Aug. 6 so the Texas Historic Commission can review the work.

The group is looking for old photographs of the bridge, even if the bridge is in the background of a family picture.

“We believe there may be rare photographs tucked away in boxes somewhere that can help in the historic preservation of the Cow Bayou Bridge,” said committee member Butch Thurman. “We are asking anyone who may have old photographs or news clippings to lend them to us.”

Wiley Construction Company, Inc., of Paris, Texas was awarded the contract by TxDOT at a cost of $70,000 to make the armor joint repairs that included refabricating the joint for the historic bridge.

For more information on how to submit photographs, negatives, and drawings contact Mark Dunn at 409-735-7183. They may also be dropped off at the Bridge City Historical Museum at the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce, 409-735-5671.