CORPUS CHRISTI — On Wednesday, Corpus Christi city leaders said it might be three months until drivers can cross over the Yorktown Mud Bridge.
On December 12, it was shut down completely after a sinkhole was discovered at the bridge’s approach.
During a weekly press conference Ernest De La Garza, the public works director, said crews have had twelve work days repairing embankments which should be done by mid-January.
De La Garza said then repairs on the bridge’s pylons will begin.
Twenty-two of the 55 pylons were compromised. Four had severe damage. The concrete chipped away down to the rebar.
The restoration project is expected to be complete by the end of March 2023.
“Our primary goal is to get the bridge open,” city manager Peter Zanoni, said.
Zanoni said restoring the bridge so it can re-open will cost several million dollars but did not give an exact amount.
TXDOT’s previous inspection showed over the last 15 years, the bridge lacked much needed maintenance.
Zanoni said maintenance wasn’t done because a public works department wasn’t established until almost three years ago.
He said no one dropped the ball because there was no one to focus on those issues
“For the 8th largest city in Texas that’s surrounded by water more than ever it’s an issue,” Zanoni said. “That’s why we created a public works department. That’s why we worked hard to give city council choices and options to create an independent storm water fee.”
Zanoni said that fee will fund repairs to the bridge.
As far as the $20 million mud bridge replacement project that was originally set to begin in 2026, Zanoni said TXDOT officials approved expediting funding so the project can begin in 2025 and finish in 2028.
But, the mud bridge is only one of 67 bridges owned by the City of Corpus Christi.
De La Garza said his department is working to build a program will make sure all 68 bridges are safe and regularly maintained.
“Step one is to bring in a consultant,” De La Garza said.
De la Garza said the city has a three month time frame to hire an engineering consultant.
“Right now, we don’t have that expertise in house,” De La Garza said.
The city owns the bridges but TXDOT is the entity that inspects them.
“From what I reviewed we don’t have anything like that at the city where TXDOT has raised an alarm to say hey this bridge needs to be closed immediately,” De La Garza said.
City leaders admitted the bridges haven’t been maintained.
“We know that erasing decades of neglect doesn’t happen in days,” Zanoni said. “It takes time.”
De La Garza said after they hire a bridge engineering consultant, it’s time to look at contracts for any maintenance that needs to be done.