Popular bridge closed for repairs due to age, fire damage

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 9:33 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A heavily used bridge in Waco is going to be closing Wednesday.

City of Waco officials say the S. 17th St. Bridge is old and was damaged by fire and needs to be repaired.

“The bridge is 60 somewhat years old, it’s been in ‘not so good’ condition for a couple years now, that fire that happened a couple years ago did not help matters either,” said Curt Caldwell, project engineer for the City of Waco.

The one-way bridge is a straight shot from Interstate 35 into downtown Waco.

“We do realize there’s a lot of people that do use it,” said Caldwell. “For the last couple weeks we’ve put a message board on the bridge itself asking drivers to start seeking alternate routes.”

The project got underway Tuesday, however, the bridge won’t be closed until Wednesday, officials say.

Caldwell is overseeing the project.

He says they’re going to refurbish the bridge deck and structural elements.

“There’s some holes forming along some existing joints, wear and tear over the years is just causing that to get bigger and bigger, so we’re going to go ahead and repair and reconstruct,” said Caldwell.

Back in 2019, the bridge was damaged during a large warehouse fire at the old Langford Distribution Co. building.

However, Caldwell says the fire’s damage was mostly cosmetic and age is the bigger problem.

“Nothing severely structural, but more cosmetic if you will on the fire end,” said Caldwell.

Starting Wednesday, S. 17th St. will be closed from Franklin Ave. to Webster Ave. -- traffic will be detoured to 11th St., and the area under the bridge will be off limits to the public.

“We’ve got a detour plan setup, we plan on carrying the public along a signalized route,” said Caldwell. “Approaching the 17th Street bridge from I-35, at Webster we’ll take a right and then we’ll go down Webster and we’ll take a left on 11th, and go from Webster on 11th all the way up to Waco Dr.”

Caldwell says they’re asking for patience from drivers, but it will be for a shorter timeline than anticipated.

“This will be a short duration project, that’s the good news, it’ll only last the summer months basically from now until October,” said Caldwell.

The project’s original timeline was slated for completion in March of 2023.

“The contractor is feeling that he can get it done by October, so that will be a nice reprieve if that’s in fact the case,” said Caldwell.

When finished, he says the public likely won’t notice much of a visual difference, but drivers should feel a difference.

“The bridge had some pretty rough joints so those will be gone, so it will be a nice smooth ride over the top of it when it’s all said and done,” said Caldwell.

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