The Buchanan Dam Bridge is located across the Colorado River along former TX Route 29 between Burnet and Llano counties in Texas. It was bypassed in 2003 with a new crossing.
Planning for a TX Route 29 alignment west of Burnet by the Texas Highway Department (THD) began in 1929. 1 However, the plans were interrupted by the imminent construction of the Buchanan Dam. The THD understood that the existing roadway would be underwater by 1937 and that a new bridge over the Colorado River would be needed.
In September 1931, the state accepted $135,000 from the Emery, Peck & Rockwood Development Corporation, the developers of the dam, for the soon-to-be-flooded right-of-way of TX Route 29. 1 The money was never fully remitted as the company was acquired by the Central Texas Hydro-Electric Company in November.
The dam’s plans were revamped, and the Hydro-Electric Company signed an agreement with THD in March 1932 to pay the earlier accepted amount. 1 A check for the first $5,000 was attached to the agreement, followed by two additional checks that were sent in April and May. Monthly payments of $10,000 were to be followed after that until the total $135,000 was paid. State Bridge Engineer Gibb Gilchrist began requesting federal aid funding for the bridge’s construction and insisted that the plans of a bridge with a 20-foot roadway width be included for approval by the Bureau of Public Roads. It was done against the advice of the THD as federal aid requirements called for a minimum 22-foot roadway width and slightly different type of bridge design.
The Hydro-Electric Company went into receivership in April 1932, and all work on the Buchanan Dam stopped. 1 The monthly payments to the THD stopped as well, as did further development with the bridge. The Texas Legislature created the Lower Colorado River Authority in 1934, and construction resumed on the Buchanan Dam in the following year.
Planning work for the new bridge over the Colorado River began again in May 1935 when Gilchrist refused revisions to his bridge design, who believed that if the Bureau of Public Works funds were rejected that the $135,000 remitted from the Hydro-Electric Company would be sufficient. 1 In a memorandum to Wickline, Gilchrist insisted that there was no need to revise the plans and that the power company would submit the money. Regardless, the THD redesigned the Colorado River bridge to include a 24-foot roadway width, four 200-foot riveted Parker through trusses, and 11 girder approach spans in 1936. Federal aid was soon approved for the bridge project, and surveying for an optimal bridge site began soon after.
Construction bids were awarded to the Austin Bridge Company of Dallas for $182,000, and work on the new crossing started on February 4, 1937. 1 The through trusses were fabricated by the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company of Des Moines, Iowa, while the approach spans were built by the North Texas Iron & Steel Company of Fort Worth.
The new Colorado River bridge was completed at the cost of $188,000 on September 30, 45 days ahead of schedule. 1 It was dedicated on October 15 as part of the dedication ceremony for the Buchanan Dam.
The Buchanan Dam Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 10, 1996. 1 It was bypassed in 2003 with a 1,530-foot steel girder bridge.
- State: Texas
- Type: Parker Through Truss
- Status: Active - Pedestrian
- Total Length: 1,379 feet
- Main Span Length: 200 feet
- Deck Width: 26 feet
- Roadway Width: 24 feet
- Truss Height:
- Above Vertical Clearance: 15.7 feet
- State Highway 29 Bridge at the Colorado River. Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1996. Texas Historical Commission. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. Article.
- Adams, John A. Jr. Damming the Colorado: The Rise of the Lower Colorado River Authority 1933-1939. College Station, Texas: Texas A & M University, 1990.
- Austin Chamber of Commerce. Lakes in the Austin Area. Austin: Austin Chamber of Commerce, 1937.
- Banks, James H. and John E. Babcock. Corralling the Colorado: The First Fifty Years of the Lower Colorado River Authority. Austin: LCRA, 1988.
- “Dam Dedication by Ickes Planned for This Morning.” The Austin American, 16 October 1937, 1.
- Texas Highway Department. General Information on Texas Highways. Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1919.
- Texas Highway Department. Plans of Proposed State Highway Improvement. Control-Section-Job No. 0150-05-002, located at TxDOT headquarters in Austin.
- Texas Highway Department. Project Correspondence Files. Control-Section-Job No. 0150-05-001, located at TxDOT headquarters in Austin.
- Texas Highway Department. Project Correspondence Files. Control-Section-Job No. 0150-05-002, located at TxDOT headquarters in Austin.