The planning is still moving forward — at least crawling — for a potential new bridge over the Paluxy River that would allow heavy semis and other large transport trucks to avoid squeezing through some of the narrow downtown streets in Glen Rose.
Heavy-duty large trucks hauling things such as rocks, water and other materials are going through town at an ever-increasing frequency.
Trucks taking right turns off Elm Street onto NE Barnard Street, making their way to US 67, have to go into the oncoming lane next the courthouse because there isn’t enough room to make the turn otherwise. That forces oncoming traffic — at various times, all day long — to have to either back up from the four-way stop or pull over in order for the trucks to get by.
“We need to get the big trucks out of downtown,” Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers said.
An open public meeting organized by officials from the Texas Department of Transportation was held last Thursday at Glen Rose High School to help determine the feasibility of a new bridge for Glen Rose.
The two-hour come-and-go meeting was to promote discussions about six potential new traffic routes that would have to be built, depending on where a new bridge might be built. Attendees were encouraged to fill out forms with their ideas and/or concerns about such a project.
Chambers said that he has been to previous meetings on the topic, and perhaps now TxDOT can start to “put a plan together to see what’s the most cost-effective and feasible. Then they’ll start to talk to land owners and buy up right-of-way. I’m sure that will be coming up in the next year or two.”
John Curtis, Somervell County’s outgoing commissioner of Precinct 2, said he has mixed feelings about a bridge project.
Curtis said that one of the potential routes that might be a good option would route SH 144 traffic coming toward Glen Rose from the south to a route southeast of town to link with the segment of SH 144 that leads to Granbury.
“That would be an extension of 144 South and would cross 56, so truck traffic can miss downtown,” Curtis said. “Does that meet the intent of what the bridge is designed for? You still run the potential of backing traffic up, even with that.”
Curtis noted that Glen Rose and surrounding areas are likely to continue in a population growth pattern. In addition, he noted, “The materials along the Brazos River are going to become a highly sought-after commodity.”
Curtis added, “We’re going to grow in population, and I think we’re going to have to address this issue. It’s something that has to be dealt with. Trucks don’t need to come downtown, in my opinion. I’m curious to see more information pertaining to the cost and their conclusions.”
Precinct 1 Commissioner Larry Hulsey said, “It’s necessary, and it will be more necessary in the future. To me, the best spot would be where the baseball fields (Beck Baseball/Softball Complex) are. To me, that would be the simplest.”
That potential route would send traffic on SH 144 heading toward town to a point west of downtown to link with US 67.
TxDOT spokesman Val Lopez said that even after all of the details can be worked out, including the state and local funding issue, the completion of such a project is years away.
Hulsey said that the topic of adding a new bridge has been discussed since the 1970s, adding, “It’s needed, but I can’t see it happening any time soon.”
In addition to the obvious issues that will come up, such as buying private property to put the new roadways on, there is also an environmental factor.
Glen Rose Mayor Sue Oldenburg attended the meeting and said the comments she heard were divided between environmentalists, and those “thinking about people.”
Oldenburg noted, “There is some very pristine countryside some of it’s going through.”
Oldenburg pointed to the fuel spill that occurred in late 2006 when a tanker transport truck overturned on a sharp curve on Elm Street, just a couple of blocks from downtown. The road that goes over the current bridge shut down for hours because of that spill, causing all through traffic to take lengthy detours around Glen Rose.
“I think we do need another entry/exit from town,” Oldenburg said. “That is a very definite need for another bridge. The main thing is to have exits and entrances to town in case something happens to (or near) that bridge. I think everybody knows we needed another entry and exit. That truck spill brought it to the forefront.”