Richmond Bridge HAER No. TX-11 US 90A at the Brazos River
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Posted by Jesse Sharkoman Berube
The need for a new bridge became more apparent with each passing day. in August, 1923 a new ferry was required and repairs were made to the old ferry. Plans were also made to construct a concrete highway from the Harris County line, west to the Brazos River, paralleling the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway. There were two proposed sites for the bridge. The Morton Street location was the one preferred by most residents with the Liberty Street location as an alternate.
On February 15, 1924 several of the bidding firms were present at the meeting of the Commissioners Court. The most acceptable bids were those of the Austin Bridge Company of Dallas for the piers and the structure, and the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company of Leavenworth, Kansas for the piers alone. The Austin Bridge Company proposed that open pile-driven cofferdam piers be used at a cost of $104,534.80. Missouri Valley proposed that pneumatic caisson piers with an additional 8 feet in depth be used and at a cost of $104,000.30. In an interview with Judge C. D. Myers, The Texas Coaster reported that the contract would probably be split, with the Missouri Valley Company constructing the piers and the Austin Bridge Company building the bridge proper. In early April soundings were made in the river to ascertain the type of piers to be used.
"Work To Begin On Bridge Across Brazos" was the headline of The Texas Coaster on May 2, 1924. County Judge Myers, County Commissioner Wirtz, and County Engineer Charles H. Kendall went to Dallas to confer with State and Federal Highway officials on the signing of the contract, and Judge Myers sent a telegram notifying the people of Richmond that a bridge across the Brazos at Liberty Street would start in less than 30 days. Contracts were awarded to the Austin Bridge Company and Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company. The May 2nd article continued by stating, "The building of the bridge, together with the completion of the concrete highway to the Harris County line, will throw the travel of thousands of motorist through Richmond, which is on the direct highway between Houston and San Antonio." Agreements and contracts between the county and the contractors were signed and passed by the Commissioners Court between April 30,1924 and May 5,1924. The Austin Bridge Company subcontracted to the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company of Roanoke, Virginia for the structural steel. The planning and construction phase of the Richmond bridge was under the supervision of Charles Hanford Kendall, Fort Bend County Engineer.
The Austin Bridge Company sent plans to the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company in February, 1924. Stamps on the reverse side of the sheets show that these went to The Virginia Bridge & Iron Company's Engineering Department on February 4,1924 and finally to the Drafting Department on May 21,1924. Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company began work on the piers on June 21,1924. The plans called for two piers to be erected. Pier #1 (West Pier) was the first to be erected and Pier #2 (East Pier)-was formed next. Missouri Valley completed their work on November 26,1924.
In the winter of 1924 work was underway on the concrete piles and trestles for the approaches to the bridge. The Texas Coaler reported on January 9,1925 that workers were due the next week to begin putting steel across the piers for the Richmond bridge. On May 14,1925 the last piece of steel on the cantilever arms, over the main channel, and the overhead trusses, was put in place by the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company. Only the riveting of the steel and the placing of the concrete floor were left to be accomplished. Plans were begun in earnest to organize a large celebration for the opening of the new bridge. The residents of Richmond had been without a bridge for over three years. The new bridge, costing almost $300,000, was well worth a party of great magnitude. The Texas Coaster, on June 26, 1925 reported the plans for the celebration, set to occur in late July, when the bridge was to be thrown open to traffic. The bridge was received by the authorities and opened at 6 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1925.
Richmond Bridge HAER No. TX-11