KILGORE — Years-old questions about replacing the Kilgore College Footbridge were raised Thursday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new structure – due to be completed this year.
KC President Brenda Case joked with a large crowd of onlookers about the timing of the project.
“We definitely acknowledge that this has taken a long time, and frankly, we will be grateful that we can actually answer the question: “So when will this new bridge be built?” Case said at the groundbreaking Thursday.
She added that, barring any further supply issues or unforeseen delays, the new bridge is expected to be completed by September.
Manny Almanza, the college’s director of marketing and public relations, said the college will organize a live video of the bridge’s construction, which will be publicly available at www.kilgore.edu.
The bridge over Henderson Boulevard/Business US 259 was damaged in April 2019 after an oversized cargo tractor hit it. Soon after, it was determined that the damage to the bridge was so severe that it needed to be demolished.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and related supply issues pushed back the bridge’s replacement schedule.
On Thursday, Case thanked local law enforcement for helping to use the crosswalk, which allowed students, faculty and staff to get to the east end of campus.
The pedestrian crossing and associated traffic lights have been a source of controversy in the years they have been in use.
“While they worked very well, we realized that the flashing lights on Highway 259 were only a temporary solution,” Case told the audience at Thursday’s ceremony. “Despite the signage and numerous media outlets, the rhythm of the lights has unfortunately eluded or remained a mystery to some motorists.”
Case also said the new bridge will be ADA compliant, with elevators on both sides. The structure itself will have a “modern, elegant look” that “becomes a landmark not only for Kilgore College, but for the city of Kilgore,” she said.
Pro Tem Mayor Harvey McClendon congratulated KC on the progress of the project.
“On behalf of the City of Kilgore, I would like to congratulate Dr. Case, the college staff, and the Kilgore College community on this project. It won’t just be a bridge, it will be a city landmark,” McClendon said. .
Gregg Co. 3 Commissioner Floyd Wingo, a KC alumnus, also congratulated the college and said Gregg County Judge Bill Staudt, who was unable to attend the ceremony, was proud of the college and the city.
The bridge project required the college and city to work with the Texas Department of Transportation, contractors, design firms, and other organizations. The KC trustees considered several design options and applications for the removal of the old structure.