Rio Hondo lift bridge closed for year-long repairs

Rio Hondo’s famed lift bridge was closed this morning for a $12.4 million overhaul.

Crews with the Texas Department of Transportation allowed one last motorist to travel across the massive yellow bridge before moving road closure barricades in front of both entrances.

The retrofit of the bridge that opened in 1953 began several months ago and is about 14 percent complete, according to TxDOT.

The bridge will be locked in the up position for the duration of its closure, allowing barge traffic access to the Port of Harlingen upstream.

While city leaders hope the bridge is closed for only a few months, TxDOT says renovations are expected to be completed December 2017.

Motorists traveling from Harlingen will have to use Cemetery Road to get to Rio Hondo and Arroyo City. Others can travel on Williams Road or Sam Houston Boulevard to get to their destination.

Rio Hondo officials say there are only two others like it in the country, in California and in Louisiana. The Louisiana bridge no longer raises and lowers, merely serving as a fixed crossing.

Valley Morning Star Reporter Rick Kelley contributed to this report.