Ownership in question, no plan to rebuild
By Joe Southern
“There are no plans to replace it. Nothing is in the works,” said resident Bruce Zaborowski.
He is one of several members of the community who have been trying for years to get the span replaced. Getting it torn down is what Zaborowski considers the first step. He said the bridge, which had been closed, was in unsafe condition with rotted and missing boards and rusted supports.
The problem the community has been having is getting a local government to take responsibility for it. Their portion of Missouri City juts northeast into the Beltway on the Harris County side of the line. Harris County constructed the pedestrian bridge in the early 1980s, which is located across a county flood control bayou.
“Our main concern right now is to take the bridge down for safety reasons,” Mayor Allen Owen said. “We have been working with Harris County for some time now to determine the ownership of the bridge. Since it is not owned by the city and not on city property, we legally cannot spend money to do this by ourselves. We are partnering with Harris County and will split the cost of taking it down strictly for safety reasons, but that is all we can do at this time.”
It cost $11,500 to take down the bridge. The cost was split evenly between the city and county and the work was done by a contractor for the Harris County Flood Control District.
It is estimated that it will cost $500,000 to replace the bridge. A year ago members of the community’s homeowners association went to Harris County but found there were no funds for it. They then went to their own city council for help, but found sympathetic ears but again no action.
Missouri City council member Yolanda Ford noted at that time that, “the bridge is very dangerous. The wood is rotten and decayed from lack of maintenance. Several of the walking boards are missing and securing it has not been successful since half of the community needs it to access the clubhouse, park and catch the school bus.”
The bayou divides the community. The bridge provided easy access for residents on the west side to reach the pool and community center on the east side. Now, Zaborowski said, they have to drive a couple miles – into Houston and back into Missouri City – just to reach the facility.
He said the city and Harris County have agreed to share the cost of removing the bridge because it is a hazard, but that’s where it stops.
Allen said there are several issues to resolve before a new bridge can be built.
“If the bridge is to be rebuilt at a later date, who does it and who takes responsibility for it has to be determined and that has not occurred yet. I also know the city is working with Houston ISD about bus routes for the kids to get to and from schools without having to cross that bridge,” Owen said.
Zaborowski pointed out that Missouri City had no problem buying a golf course in Quail Valley and Harris County has been adding bike trails and beautifying bayous, but no one seems interested in helping their community.
“I feel like we’re the bastard stepchild here … but we pay taxes, too,” he said.