After nearly nine months of construction, the King Street Bridge was reopened Tuesday morning following a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the City of Alice and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
“Many people say ‘Why the big hoopla when we have these grand openings of the different things that are going on here in Alice?” council member Yvette Terrell-Johnson said in her welcome address.
“Well, for those that are not here to witness this progress. We like to get the word out that there is progress here in Alice, Texas.”
The bridge was closed on July 28 and demolished in early August with traffic detoured along Easterling Drive to Business Highway 281. Construction of the new bridge began in early August.
The project also featured reconstruction to the asphalt roads on both sides of the bridge as well as a sidewalk alongside the bridge for pedestrian traffic, something the original bridge did not have.
Following Johnson’s welcome, council member and master of ceremonies Michael Esparza introduced city and county officials attending the event, along with members of TxDOT and the project’s contractor Relmco, Inc.
“TxDOT has been a great partner with the City of Alice,” Esparza said. “There’s a lot of things that are happening, some that aren’t in the city but affects the city.”
Pastor David Flores with Alice Community Fellowship led the audience in the invocation, followed by remarks from Council member Leo Escobar and a special presentation as Mayor Pro-tem Dorella V. Elizondo presented the dedication plaque from the old Jim Wells County Bridge to Pat Coym of Coym, Rehmet & Gutierrez.
“We have a gentleman here whose father set a legacy as an engineer and helped set up this bridge,” Elizondo said. “And his son has done the same and contributed many great things to our city, and it’s just a wonderful thing to see generations of progress in Alice.”
Coym’s father, W.W. Coym, served as the engineer on the Jim Wells County bridge in the late 1950s. Elizondo said the dedication plaque was found during the refurbishing of the bridge.
“What a wonderful gift,” Coym said.
TxDOT District Engineer John Casey also spoke briefly about the project. Casey said the original bridge was erected in 1958 and had stood for more than 50 years.
Casey said the project had a contract amount of about $687,000 which was funded through a federal allocation with TxDOT and the City of Alice each funding about 10 percent of the total costs.
“What I want to leave you all with is that TxDOT is not just a state agency,” Casey said. “We are the face of TxDOT. We are your neighbors. We are the ones where if you need, you can call.
“We need to communicate with people. We need to tell them what can be done, what can’t be done and try and find solutions if it’s not available right at the time. And this (project) is just an example of that happening.”
The actual ribbon cutting was then held, with members of the city, county and general public participating in the ceremonial reopening of the bridge.