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Proceedings of the Texas Transportation Commission, April 2000
Relating to the Quintana Swing Bridge on FM 1495, near Freeport

Created and last updated July 25, 2001

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COMMISSIONER JOHNSON: We have two speakers on what has come to be known as the Quintana Swing Bridge. Teresa Cornelison.

MS. CORNELISON: Hello. I am Teresa Cornelison; I live on Quintana Island in Brazoria County. I'm here today because of your proposed bridge to replace our swing bridge.

Through my research, I found that the TxDOT vision includes using efficient and cost-effective work methods that encourage innovation and creativity, also promoting a higher quality of life through partnership with the citizens of Texas and all branches of government by being receptive, responsible and cooperative.

TxDOT has informed us the swing bridge was temporary. According to the dictionary, temporary is intended to last only a short time, and 60 years is not temporary, 60 years plus is not temporary. TxDOT says the cost to maintain the bridge is $400,000 a year. I've requested proof of this and have gotten nowhere. I've gotten a letter from a man named Otto -- I don't know his last name -- Maresh. He states: No list exists, yet I can give you $500-plus and maybe possibly you can make me a list, and when I get on the internet, it says you have accurate records. So I'd like to know where the estimate is coming from.

I've got a letter from TxDOT employee Kirby Pickett that tells Congressman Ron Paul that the residents are not worth meeting with. He said public notice was given. I want to know where it was given, and my county commissioner, other residents, we've never seen the public notices. I keep receiving letters stating that we spend tax dollars wisely. It's not just the island residents that believe that $9 million of our dollars is about to be wasted if you, the commission, do not stop this.

From the end of the present swing bridge to the Gulf of Mexico is only seven-tenths of a mile, five-tenths it's sand. I've got pictures that shows this. No lives have ever been lost due to the bridge, there's not been any accidents with any water vehicles due to the bridge.

One of my suggestions is to purchase us a new pontoon bridge, privatize out operations and routine maintenance and labor and emergency repairs. Privatizing has been proven to save 40 percent of costs to major companies. The leftover money could go to expand the evacuation route which is a one-lane road. This is the last swing bridge in Brazoria County, it is historical. Quintana is only about seven miles long and not even a mile wide. Less than 100 people live on this island, we choose to take the risk there. I have a resolution that was adopted at both parties' senatorial conventions; it's going to the state conventions. Governor Bush keeps telling me that you'll work with us. Please look into this and listen to the people that it will affect.

Thank you, and I'd like to be kept informed on this.


MS. CORNELISON: Would you like to see the pictures?

COMMISSIONER JOHNSON: Yes. (Pictures reviewed and inaudible discussion.)

COMMISSIONER JOHNSON: Well, thank you, and we'll respond to your questions and concerns and we'll look into the matter. Sharon Cornett.

MS. CORNETT: I am Sharon Cornett, the city secretary, tax assessor-collector, and the only employee of the town of Quintana. Quintana was incorporated in 1891; it is a man-made island. Our official population is 51 but we have an estimated population of about 100. Quintana, for your information, has won the Governor's Achievement Award the last three years out of five years in our category, so we are recipients and will be recipients of some of your TxDOT landscaping money which we're really proud of.

We're located in Brazoria County; we're located on the Gulf side of a swing bridge, a bridge that TxDOT does propose to replace with a fixed span bridge. I have a resolution from my town council which is the direct result of research done for the town and for the taxpayers of the state of Texas. I would like to read to you that resolution.

"Whereas, the Texas Department of Highways, TxDOT, has announced plans to replace the swing bridge at Bryan Beach, Brazoria County, with a $9 million fixed span bridge to an island with less than 150 residents;

"Whereas, the swing bridge is one of three left in Texas, only one in Brazoria County;

"And whereas, the majority of the Bryan Beach subdivision and Quintana residents do not want a fixed span bridge;

"Whereas, the total taxable value of the land, as per the Brazoria County Appraisal District records, of the entire island is just over $6 million and the estimated cost of a fixed span $9 million bridge taxpayers' dollars;

"Whereas, a comprehensive plan from Texas A&M University in 1988 indicates that of this island of 1,045 acres, only 37 percent is buildable;

"And whereas, in the area of the proposed fixed span bridge, the beach erosion is 47 feet per year which threatens the long-term usefulness of a fixed span bridge;

"And whereas, the island does not have a police department and relies solely on Brazoria County Sheriff's Department for the law enforcement and increased access to the island will increase patrolling expenses for the sheriff's department;

"Now, therefore, be it resolved that in light of the huge cost and no benefit of this project, we the Town Council of the Town of Quintana ask the Texas Legislature and TxDOT to repair the present swing bridge or purchase a new swing bridge and privatize the operations to reduce further costs. We further resolve that the Town Council and the Town of Quintana urge the Texas Legislature to adopt a statewide hearing on the appropriate goals of TxDOT in light of the flaws of the current decisions made regarding the bridge of the Intercoastal Canal at Bryan Beach at Quintana."

This was signed by my council. I have this and a copy of the backup material for your convenience. I appreciate your listening to us, and we urge you to review this and help us keep our historical quaint town historical and quaint. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JOHNSON: Thank you for your presence and your comments, and this matter will be reviewed; I assure you of that.

texasfreeway.com note: A contract for the $10.7 million new bridge was awarded in January 2001.

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