Bridge Damage Status
The central Texas area experienced two major flood events in 2015, both of which caused damage to the decking of the bridge. LCRA data recorded rainfall amounts in the area as ranging between approximately 5.5 and 6.7 in. during one 24-hour period, and the Colorado River at Bastrop was 3 feet above flood stage (Chavez 2015). Wilbarger Creek, which usually flows approximately 30 feet below the decking of the bridge, went out of its banks and overflowed the bridge. The flood crest on Wilbarger Creek at Elgin of 37.83 feet on May 26 is considered to be an ‘historic crest’ (National Weather Service 2016). As the water receded, the damage to the bridge decking became apparent. To provide a basis for comparison, Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 show the condition of the bridge decking in January 2015, and Fig. 3, Fig. 4, and Fig. 5, show the condition of the bridge decking after the May 2015 flood. After the flood, the bridge was closed to pedestrian traffic because of safety concerns (Fig. 6).
May Flood Aftermath and Cleanup
After the damage to the bridge from the May flood, several area property owners began researching the bridge history in preparation for trying to get repair work done on the bridge decking. On September 30, 2015 area property owners met with Judge Paul Pape to discuss funding possibilities for repairs and potential development of the area, and another meeting was scheduled for October 28, 2015. On October 20 2015, Precinct 4 County Commissioner, Bubba Snowden, had the debris from the May flood cleaned up at the bridge site (Fig. 7 and Fig. 8), and area residents were looking forward to being able to discuss more definite future plans at the October meeting. Unfortunately, by the time of this meeting, Bastrop County was experiencing a wildfire; consequently, the meeting was canceled.
Late October 2015
Before the October wildfire was completely extinguished, the county experienced another significant rainfall event that was both a blessing and a curse: it was a blessing in that it completed the job of extinguishing the wildfire, but a curse in that it brought more flooding to the area. Like the May flood, the October flood also resulted in an historic crest on Wilbarger Creek at Elgin at 37.10 ft on October 31 (National Weather Service 2016); this crest was only 8¾ in. below the crest in May. Although the extent of the October flood would have been sufficient to damage the bridge decking, it exacerbated the damage from the May flood; some of the damaged decking from the May flood washed away in the October flood. Fig. 9 shows the flooding road on October 30, before the crest of the floodwaters on Wilbarger Creek. Fig. 10, Fig. 11, and Fig. 12 show Wilbarger Creek and the bridge on October 31; the receding floodwaters revealed the new damage to the decking.
Late April 2016
During the early morning hours of April 30, a storm packing straight-line winds of up to 75 mph blew through Bastrop County. The Lower Elgin Road bridge would probably have not sustained any damage from this storm, except that a tree was blown down on the bridge approach at the end furthest from the creek. The damage seems to have been confined to the approach, rather than to the main structure. Fig. 13, Fig. 14, Fig. 15, and Fig. 16 show this damage.
July 1, 2016
On July 1, the tree that was blown down in the April 30 storm was removed from the bridge. With the tree cleared from the bridge approach, the damage that it caused is more visible. This damage appears to be limited to several bent and/or broken pieces of the guard rail on the side of the bridge opposite to the new bridge. Fig. 17 and Fig. 18 show this damage.