By Lynda Jones
"I concur," was uttered several times by county commissioners during the Tuesday, Jan. 12 Houston County Commissioners Court meeting.
Several bridges in Houston County are scheduled for replacement between 2016 and 2020 by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). One of the steps towards this work is the approval - or concurrence - of the Houston County Commissioners Court to temporarily close those bridges during construction.
With two representatives of TxDOT present to answer any questions during Tuesday's meeting, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve the requested closures.
Traffic on County Roads 1545, 4180, 1765, 2245, 1515, 2235, 1680, 1750, 3365 and 4025 will be affected for about four months.
According to TxDOT documents, the existing bridge at Cook Branch Tributary on CR 1545 is scheduled to let to contract in June 2016 with construction beginning in the following weeks. The bridges at Rich Creek on CR 1765 and 1750, and Silver Creek on CR 1680 are scheduled to let to contract in July 2016 with construction beginning in the following weeks.
The existing bridges at White Rock Creek on CR 4180, Big Elkhart Creek on CR 2245, and Flat Branch on CR 1515 (Sullivan Rd.), are scheduled to let to contract in January 2018.
The bridge at Gail Creek Relief on CR 4025 is scheduled to let to contract in September 2019. Two bridges are scheduled to let in January 2020, one at Tantebogue Creek on CR 3365 and one at Big Elkhart Creek on CR 2235.
During the public forum at the beginning of the commissioners court meeting, Lonnie Ellis, a resident who has requested a number of documents from the county, said, "All people listening, people here at the county, we're not mad at ya'll. We love ya'll. God is on our side, and in fact he's on your side....We don't do their job and protect the taxpayers, and we want the roads (inaudible) . We pray for ya'll, and we don't hate ya. We love ya." Ellis then sat down and County Judge Erin Ford thanked him for his comments.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Pat Perry voiced frustration about a contractor wanting to move a crane weighing about 154,000 pounds across a bridge in Precinct 3, much more than the 84,000 pounds Perry thought it might be. Perry also stated that when he told the contractor he couldn't sign off for that heavy a load, the contractor told him to talk to the county judge. Ford said he has not talked to the contractor about the bridge and indicated he was displeased with the contractor's reported statement to Perry. Ford added, "I make enough mistakes on my own."
At the end of the meeting, Ellis stood and asked who drove a truck he pointed to outside the courtroom. Ford reminded Ellis the time for public comments was at the beginning of the meeting. The court, being finished with its posted agenda, then adjourned.