Bridge out: Officials working on a plan for repair

SAN BENITO — Deemed unsafe by city officials, the bridge on Rio Grande Street will be closed until further notice.

City leaders made the decision to close the bridge indefinitely as a precautionary measure to prevent possible accidents.

Officials say the instability of the bridge was revealed after a routine inspection found structural concerns.

The bridge is located between Rio Grande Avenue and the corner of 2nd and Fresno streets.

After meeting with commissioners Tuesday, Interim City Manager Art Rodriguez was given permission to proceed with engineers who together will come up with a plan of action to repair the bridge.

They will then come up with the cost, which Rodriguez declined to estimate at this time.

Last week, Rodriguez discovered the erosion issues on the bridge support.

“After an inspection of the bridge, it was decided that it is unsafe at this time and that the Rio Grande Street bridge should be shut down from Fresno Street to Second Street,” he said.

“When I was out there looking at it, I saw two school busses pass by. It is a serious problem and we don’t want any accidents or problems.”

Buses going to the school in that area have since been rerouted.

The bridge spans a Cameron County Drainage District ditch that takes water runoff away from the Rio Grande Street area.

Rodriguez said he has been looking for old paperwork to check and see how old the bridge is but has yet to find any information on its age.

However, he did say the irrigation canal was built in 1915, so the bridge can’t be much older.

Now that the bridge is shut down indefinitely, no one is allowed to drive on the bridge, officials warn.

Barricades have been placed along the roadway to prevent motorists from crossing the bridge.

The city is asking for the cooperation of people traveling on Rio Grande Street and encourages them to respect the placement of the barricades.

Due to the instability of he bridge, ignoring the barricades could lead to danger.

It is illegal to remove safety barricades, Rodriguez said. People who are found moving the barriers will be ticketed and could face a fine.