Over the year, Melissa Pickett stood watch as her rural neighborhood changed.

She grew up just outside the city and remembers a day when hardly anyone lived on the curved Raab Road.

The lanes, barely wide enough for two cars, began to see more traffic - heavy equipment trucks and construction-towing vehicles began to pass her small house daily as the area grew.

And the small bridge built to cross Spring Creek began to show signs of wear under weight limits it wasn't built to support. The bridge was built in 1965.

Today, a warning of a 24,000-pound weight limit is posted before the narrow bridge.

The bridge is one of 36 in Victoria County that has been deemed functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.

A total of 208 bridges in the Crossroads are sitting on the Texas Department of Transportation's list of bridges needing repair. A majority of those on the list are functionally obsolete, meaning they are unable to serve current traffic.

The Raab Road bridge is structurally deficient, which means it has an extreme restriction on its load-carrying capacity. Because of this, the bridge will be added to TxDOT's five-year plan to be repaired.

In 1978, the Highway Bridge Program was established to repair or replace bridges that are unsafe. Each fall, at the end of the fiscal year, TxDOT's bridge division begins a collaborative project with the Federal Highway Administration and local governments to identify bridges and rank them.

More than half of Texas bridges were repaired or improved under the program, which helped the department surpass its 2010 goal to have 80 percent of bridges in the state rated good or better.

Structural issues affecting the Raab Road bridge aren't easily seen. The roadway has few cracks on it and many using it daily weren't aware it needed to be repaired.

"I'd never thought about it," Pickett said. "They widened the bridge a few years back. I thought it was fine."

The issues that will put the Raab Road bridge on the list for repair shouldn't affect the every day driver, said bridge inspector Holly Fishbeck.

The structure is experiencing piling behind the abutments, which, if the process continues, will begin to push the support structure out, Fishbeck said.

Each bridge in Texas is inspected every two years, and inspectors look at the deck on the top and underneath the structure for signs of failure. They also look at the beams to see whether there is any corrosion. Most beams in Victoria are made of concrete, but for those made of timber, the inspector looks for rotting.

Fishbeck said the piling behind the abutments happen because over the years vehicles that use the bridge compact the soil. Eventually, it makes it so the abutments are no longer able to hold the bridge up.

At that point, a weight limit is placed on the bridge.

"But that isn't easy to enforce," she said. "It's hard to control who uses them."

Earlier this year, a bridge in Gonzales County buckled under the weight of an oil field truck.

The wood bridge on County Road 299 had a 7,500-pound weight restriction, a posting the driver ignored. The truck was estimated to weigh about 93,000 pounds.

While oil field traffic isn't the biggest issue plaguing Victoria bridges, an ability to serve the traffic of a rapidly-growing city is.

A staggering percentage of Victoria bridges - 28 out of 36, or 77 percent - need repairs or need to be rebuilt because of clearance, weight and width restrictions.

A Weber Road bridge was recently torn down and is being rebuilt because it was too narrow, said Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Burns. The bridge will gain 18 feet after repairs.

A big issue to address, Burns said, is how officials are sometimes unable to fix a bridge or road because the county doesn't have the right of way.

A property owner would need to give up part of his or her land to widen the bridge or road, which is what happened on Weber Road.

"It's hard to get people to give up their land," Burns said. "I'm a redneck, I'd be hesitant to give up 10 feet, but all you can do is ask. The narrow roads and bridges are too dangerous."

While the majority of Victoria bridges in need of repair are functionally obsolete, the majority due for repair in the next three to four years are structurally deficient.

The deficient Raab Road bridge is set to be added to the list, Fishbeck said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Janak, who covers the area, said while the bridge is not unsafe, a waning rating is part of the reason they chose to replace it sooner.

"It's starting to show wear and tear," he said. "It's time to replace it."

Once a bridge is added to the list for repairs, Janak said figuring out funding is the next step.

Through the Highway Bridge Program, 80 percent of the cost is covered with federal funds, 10 percent through the state and the city or county is responsible for the balance.

The Raab Road bridge doesn't currently have an estimate, but should roughly cost $400,000 to repair, Janak said.

"It would be very hard, if not impossible, for the county alone to replace these bridges," he said. "There is no way we could find funding to get it done."

Janak credits the Highway Bridge Program for keeping bridges in the Crossroads safe.

"Without that, we would not be able to replace these bridges, nor could the state," he said.

The estimated cost to fix the 32 bridges set for repair work during the next three to four years in the Crossroads - including Calhoun, DeWitt, Jackson, Lavaca and Victoria counties - is more than $22 million, according to TxDOT records.

Repairing the bridges also come with costs beyond dollars. Many of the bridges are on roads that are the best - sometimes only - pathway in and out of an area.

When the bridge on Raab Road is torn down, those who live nearby will have to travel about a mile to Love Road to take Kohutek Road to reach U.S. Highway 87.

Pickett, who has a child attending Vickers Elementary, said the re-route will add about 10 to 15 minutes to her commute.

However, Pickett said a bigger concern is what will happen to the neighborhood once the bridge is rebuilt to carry a heavier load.

"There are a lot of children and animals out here. With a bigger bridge, people will go through here even faster," she said, pointing out a car racing past her house. "You kind of want to keep it the same - maybe that would be safer."

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