Local officials are optimistic that talk of a new bridge over the Paluxy River will not only lead somewhere, but that eventually the bridge itself will alleviate some old problems.
However, local officials said, construction of such a bridge and related roadways will take years even if a consensus is reached on where it should be placed.
City and county officials met in Glen Rose on Oct. 3 with about eight TxDOT personnel to discuss the feasibility of building a bridge that would allow large 18-wheel tractor-trailer transport rigs to bypass the downtown square area. Currently, traffic headed north from Highway 144 South toward Highway 67 goes through downtown Glen Rose on NE Barnard Street.
Because Elm Street — the street leading up to the southeast corner of the square intersection — is a narrow two-lane road, large trucks can’t make the turn onto NE Barnard without sweeping across the southbound lane of Barnard. Oncoming traffic must either stay back far enough to allow for the turns or pull over to the side of the roadway by the courthouse to allow the trucks to go by.
Another concern came to light late last year when a fuel transport truck overturned just past the current bridge on Elm Street, causing both lanes to be shut down to traffic for several hours. The alternative routes for that traffic — both locals and commercial vehicles — involve long detours.
“We’ve just been trying to get a feel for where we might locate a crossing,” City Council member Doug Mitchell. “I am optimistic we’re going to get it done. It’s been needed a long time. Truck traffic through town has been a problem for many years. I’m glad we’re finally getting it in motion.”
In addition to large tractor-trailer rigs having to make wide right turns into traffic, sometimes the trucks didn’t exactly make it through the intersection without incident.
“Utility poles have been hit,” Mitchell noted. “I don’t know how many times.”
At least three of the most practical routes have been discussed so far.
One would cross the river, go directly beside the Senior Center, then connect with Hereford Street just two blocks south of the square. Another would extend Highway 144 North past Highway 67 and connect with 144 South on the east side of Glen Rose. The other potential route prominent in the early discussions would route traffic to the far west end of town, connecting with Highway 67 near Dinosaur State Park.
City Council member Dennis Moore, a former mayor of Glen Rose, said that the city has been in communication with TxDOT about the possibility of a new bridge location for many years.
“We’ve been asking for a bridge for 15 or 20 years,” Moore said.
But, he noted, “This is the first time they have called this type of meeting. We had smaller meetings in the past. They asked what we thought about the route that would be best for everybody.”
TxDOT spokesperson Natalie Galindo said of the meeting, “There has been no routes determined, but the consultant is continuing with the feasibility study.”
Aside from the truck traffic, several housing developments have sprung up south of Glen Rose, increasing the traffic coming through town even more in recent years.
“A lot of people are moving out that direction,” Moore said.
Moore said that TxDOT indicated another meeting will be held, possibly in March and, like Mitchell, is optimistic something will get done — eventually.
“I believe they are going to build a bridge. I just don’t know the time table,” Moore said. “We need it now.”
But, Mitchell said, “I wouldn’t be surprised it it was eight years — that’s my guesstimation.”