BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — The Old Iron Bridge is a landmark in Bastrop. Couples come to the bridge to lock in their love and crowds line it for big events like the city’s annual Patriotic Festival. Bastrop Interim City Engineer Jerry Palady says the bridge itself needs some love, and that’s part of the reason people won’t be able to walk on it during Fourth of July.
“Recommended that we limit the load to 85 pounds per square foot,” Palady says. “Some of the joints, some of the trusses are showing a lot of wear, some metal loss, so you have to take that into consideration.”
Repairs for the bridge are estimated to cost around $1.3 million. Bastrop city officials say they can’t pay for that right now. However, $4.2 million in bond money will be available in the 2019 fiscal year, which will allow them to start tackling how to address the bridge’s structural issues for the first time in four years.
City staff discussed the importance of the bridge to the Bastrop community and presented issues identified in the 2014 report at a Budget Workshop earlier this month. City staff will be developing a variety of options for future Council consideration concerning the future of the iconic structure later this summer. Staff will show a presentation Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. detailing the structural issues and the critical importance to ensure the safety of the public.
Recommended repairs for the bridge have not been completed so the bridge will be closed for any future large events to prevent accidental overloading that could result in failure.
Liza Longoria lives in Bastrop and says closing the bridge is a smart choice.
“I think that’s good,” she said. “They’d rather deal with people getting upset about the closed bridge than having 5,000 people dying because the bridge is gonna collapse.”
Residents and visitors are encouraged to select an alternate location to view the fireworks such as along the Colorado River, the June Pape Riverwalk, Bastrop Public Library or Fisherman’s Park.
The bridge will be closed from Saturday, June 30th through July 2nd.
The Old Iron Bridge was built by Kansas City Bridge Co. in 1923 and rises 60 feet above the water. The cost to construct the bridge at the time was $167,000. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Traffic was redirected from the Old Iron Bridge onto the Chief Petty Officer (SOC) Stephen “Matt” Mills bridge (Loop 150) in 1992, and the City of Bastrop assumed ownership at that time.