Construction of the new Bridge City Police Department is well underway and the complex is taking shape. The facility is expected to open in July and will include the police department and the city court. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Summer is still several months away, but for officers and staff of the Bridge City Police Department it cannot get here soon enough.

A much anticipated construction project finally began this year as the Bridge City Police Department will have a new home this summer. The project is taking shape as the frame of the 6,000 square foot building has already been built.

“The building our police department uses right now is way too small for their needs,” said Jerry Jones, City Manager of Bridge City. “Not only is the layout of the building not what they need, but the biggest issue is traffic. There is only one entrance and exit off of Texas Avenue and that can be really difficult at times.”

The new Bridge City Police Department is being built in the 500 block of Texas Avenue, which is directly behind the RaceWay fuel location opposite Ferry Drive.

The site will cover approximately 3.285 acres, all of which was donated to the city by resident, Dr. S. Mark Messer.

“We are very fortunate to have someone like Dr. Messer, who cares about the community,” Jones said. “We had looked at a couple of different options before he offered to donate this property. It’s the perfect location to have the police department because officers can get anywhere they need to go so easily thanks to the new designs we have.”

The new site will have two entrances and exits, one off of Lake Street and the other off of Rachal Drive. It will include multiple offices for staff and BCPD administration, as well as lockers, shower areas, break room, evidence room, armory, garage and covered parking in rear of complex.

The total project will cost approximately $700,000 to $750,000 when completed. This cost includes construction of the building, which is $449,050 with the bid awarded to TMCI, and the parking lot will cost approximately $154,000. The addition of roads to the project will complete the project.

Jones said the contract for the project was awarded in November of 2015, but weather prevented start of the project until early this year.

The Bridge City Police Department will also be the new location of the Municipal Court. The complex will have its own separate entrances for the police department and for the court, along with a spacious parking lot in front of the complex to accommodate local residents.

“We looked at a bunch of different options, in the beginning, before we decided to move the police department to this location,” said Mayor Kirk Roccaforte. “This including moving City Hall there, but we, the whole council, felt we did not need a new City Hall. The police department was the bigger priority.”

Moving the Municipal Court to the new police department location was part of the plan all along because it made sense to keep the two entities in close proximity, instead of opposites ends of the city as they are now.

“Moving the court there is a good move,” Roccaforte said. “Besides having both in one location, it will give us more room at City Hall. Security will be a lot better around the new building for the officers and the staff with fencing surrounding most of the property and electric entry gates along the sides of the building.”

The rear of the property is also perfectly suited for a new microwave tower which will be used for 911 purposes and is part of the region-wide $17 million 911 improvement project across much of Southeast Texas.

While the new facility continues to be built, with an estimated completion timeframe of late June or early July, the city will have to consider what to do with its current police department location on Texas Avenue.

As Roccaforte and Jones both stated, an appraisal will most likely be conducted and the property put up for sale this spring.

“It’s in a prime location along Texas Avenue, and there are a lot of uses that someone could make of this building,” Jones said. “The first step is to get the appraisal. We will worry about the rest down the line.”