The 98 year old Gruene bridge in New Braunfels is a hazard. The waters near the bridge attract many tubers, rafters and boaters of varying skill levels. The low-slung concrete bridge is a danger zone for people on the river and those who cross over it because the walkways are too close to traffic lanes. The most recent drowning occurred in mid July. The death of the 49 year old man was reported by Austin American Statesman writer Molly Bloom in the Tuesday edition.
So, why isn't a drowning death enough impetus for the Texas Historical Commission and the state Transportation Department to work out a solution? Safety should take priority over preservation. As the author succinctly states ,"the words "old" and "historic" are not synonyms, and the commission has yet to fully explain its historical significance to New Braunfels or Central Texas. " In 2003, the commission determined the bridge to be unworthy of a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places because of previous renovation in 1950. That cleared the way for the bridge to be raised and rebuilt, but plans stalled as the commission said the bridge "is unique and should be preserved if modifications can be developed that would lessen any safety concerns."
Clearly, as the author reports of the recent drowning and the dozen people who have been injured already this summer , there is a compelling case to rebuild the bridge.