Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

The finish line is in sight, but it’s been pushed back again.

An official with the Texas Department of Transportation said Tuesday that the historic swing bridge on East Roundbunch Road isn’t expected to reopen until the end of August.

The previously stated timeline for the $11.4 million project was for a mid-July completion.

And before that, it was in early 2019. And before that, mid-2018.

The bridge has been closed since March of 2017 for structural repairs.

“Seems like everything always takes longer,” Orange County Engineer Clark Slacum said. “It’s just the way it works.”

Slacum said last week, “My understanding is the contractor is in the process of getting all the instrumentation to work right, to be set correctly.”

Sarah Dupre, public information officer for TxDOT, said the problem is electrical.

“They have to do certain things at certain times and something else delayed the timeline,” she said. “The electrical installation got delayed.”

Peggy Albair said electrical problems matched what she’s heard.

Albair is a more than slightly interested watcher of the project. She’s the owner of Peggy’s Place Cajun restaurant at 2682 E. Roundbunch, the east foot of the bridge over Cow Bayou.

Business has practically zeroed out since the bridge closed more than two years ago.

“We’re open three days a week, Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but we don’t get anybody after 3 o’clock,” she said. “A lot of times, our lunch run is over by 1 o’clock.

“Nobody wants to come [the long way] around. Some days at lunch, we don’t get but maybe $100, which doesn’t cover anything.

“But we’re trying to hold on as best we can.”

Before the bridge was closed, Peggy’s was packed during lunch. But Albair says people with only an hour for lunch can’t make the long way around from Bridge City, west on Texas Avenue to FM 1006 to East Roundbunch.

Slacum knows it isn’t just diners who used to drive across that bridge daily.

“I know a whole bunch of people that work on Chemical Row and live in the Bridge City area and they like that as a cut through, primarily to avoid the school zone,” he said.

“Like everybody else, I’m anxious for the work to be done, to have it back in service.”

Slacum said the main bayou traffic at the bridge is for Burton Shipbuilding and the Knife River concrete plant.

“Most of Knife River’s material comes by barge,” said Slacum, whose Road and Bridge Department operates the bridge. “We get a call from whoever’s pushing the barge saying, ‘I’ll be there in an hour.’”

Slacum said only a few county employees can operate the bridge, “but we’re trying to get more trained.”

The finish line is in sight, but it’s been pushed back again.

An official with the Texas Department of Transportation said Tuesday that the historic swing bridge on East Roundbunch Road isn’t expected to reopen until the end of August.

The previously stated timeline for the $11.4 million project was for a mid-July completion.

And before that, it was in early 2019. And before that, mid-2018.

The bridge has been closed since March of 2017 for structural repairs.

“Seems like everything always takes longer,” Orange County Engineer Clark Slacum said. “It’s just the way it works.”

Slacum said last week, “My understanding is the contractor is in the process of getting all the instrumentation to work right, to be set correctly.”

Sarah Dupre, public information officer for TxDOT, said the problem is electrical.

“They have to do certain things at certain times and something else delayed the timeline,” she said. “The electrical installation got delayed.”

Peggy Albair said electrical problems matched what she’s heard.

Albair is a more than slightly interested watcher of the project. She’s the owner of Peggy’s Place Cajun restaurant at 2682 E. Roundbunch, the east foot of the bridge over Cow Bayou.

Business has practically zeroed out since the bridge closed more than two years ago.

“On Thursdays through Saturdays, we’re open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but we don’t get anybody after 3 o’clock,” she said. “A lot of times, our lunch run is over by 1 o’clock.

“Nobody wants to come [the long way] around. Some days at lunch, we don’t get but maybe $100, which doesn’t cover anything.”

Peggy’s is open seven days a week, including from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays.

“But we’re trying to hold on as best we can,” she said.

Before the bridge was closed, Peggy’s was packed during lunch. But Albair says people with only an hour for lunch can’t make the long way around from Bridge City, west on Texas Avenue to FM 1006 to East Roundbunch.

Slacum knows it isn’t just diners who used to drive across that bridge daily.

“I know a whole bunch of people that work on Chemical Row and live in the Bridge City area and they like that as a cut through, primarily to avoid the school zone,” he said.

“Like everybody else, I’m anxious for the work to be done, to have it back in service.”

Slacum said the main bayou traffic at the bridge is for Burton Shipbuilding and the Knife River concrete plant.

“Most of Knife River’s material comes by barge,” said Slacum, whose Road and Bridge Department operates the bridge. “We get a call from whoever’s pushing the barge saying, ‘I’ll be there in an hour.’”

Slacum said only a few county employees can operate the bridge, “but we’re trying to get more trained.”