NEW WAVERLY — It has taken nearly two years, but progress appears to be coming toward the replacement of Stubblefield Lake Bridge near New Waverly.
In August 2017, flooding on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River from Hurricane Harvey damaged the Stubblefield Lake Road Bridge and its pedestrian walkways. According to the National Forest Service, flood waters caused loss of asphalt and eroded embankments and parking areas.
The northwest corner of the bridge was also undermined creating a large hole in the roadway, while the southern bridge piers have been undermined, causing it to lean away from the main road bridge. The pedestrian bridges also experienced extensive damage.
“We understand that Stubblefield Bridge serves as important roadway not only for the Sam Houston National Forest, but for nearby residents in Walker County who used the bridge daily,” Eddie Taylor, National Forests and Grasslands in Texas Forest Supervisor, said in a release. “Replacing the bridge will obviously take longer than making a repair, but in the end, Stubblefield Bridge will be safer and more substantial than the old bridge.”
The resulting bridge closure, since Hurricane Harvey in 2017, has created longer drives to national forest recreation areas and longer commutes for some neighboring residents. It also eliminated a popular fishing site and a river crossing for the Lone Star Hiking Trail.
Engineering studies recommended the replacement of the damaged bridge and pedestrian walkways in 2018, but funding was missing … until now.
A bill to provide supplemental funding for necessary hurricane expenses was passed by Congress recently to help fund projects like this. The US Forest Service, Central Federal Lands Highway Division and Federal Highway Administration are overseeing the design and construction of the new bridge, which is expected to be completed by November 2020.
According to the National Forest Service, the new bridge design will be 55’ longer, about 2 feet higher and have safe walkways on both sides for anglers and other recreationists. The existing boat launch and nearby parking will be modified slightly by the new longer bridge.
The bridge construction is scheduled to start in May 2020. Those companies interested in bidding should see the project advertised in January or February 2020.