Gruene River Bridge (History or Safety?)

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If you have ever been to New Braunfels I am sure you you’ve been to Gruene. Gruene, Texas is full of history. The bridge over the Guadalupe river in Gruene was built in 1909 making it almost 100 years old. Although it was widened in the 50’s, it is considered one of the must see sites in Gruene.

My personal research on the bridge shows that many tubers and rafters have been washed under the bridge in its life time. The bridge, during ideal flow conditions is about 18 inches above the water. Which makes for a thrill ride going under it. There have been many bumps and bruises along the way. But on July 13 Frank “Andy” Archible of Austin was not so lucky. After coming through the Gruene Rapids section of the Guadalupe, just above the bridge, Mr. Archible was thrown out of the raft and was clinging to the side of it when the current sucked it under the bridge. The water level was up due to recent heavy rains in the area and was only inches below the bridge. Brush and logs had become lodged under the bridge and Mr. Archible was not able to come out the other side. Mr. Archible is the first death related to the bridge, that I could find record of.

The incident has added new life to the push to rebuild the bridge. The rebuild was proposed in 1997 by then Gruene Mayor Jan Kennady. The project has meet road block after road block form those who want to preserve the historical significance of the bridge. The Texas Historical Commission ruled June 28 that removing the bridge would have a “detrimental” effect on the Gruene Historical District. Current Mayor Bruce Boyer said he’s never seen any historical value to the bridge.

TxDOT Area Engineer Greg Malatek said the bridge has two 10-foot lanes. A planned new bridge would have two 12-foot lanes, with 3-foot shoulders and 5-foot sidewalks on both sides. It will be built several feet higher so the road is not blocked during high river flows and to alleviate the danger to tubers. And it will have railings. The project is expected to cost $1.2 million and will be completed over the off season November to Memorial Day.

Debbi Head, spokeswoman with the Historical Commission, says they’d like to maintain the historical integrity of the bridge, but agrees with Malatek that safety is the number one issue. Head says they hope to hear from Tex DOT engineers next week. She says at that point, the project can move forward.

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Published in: on July 26, 2007 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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