SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - New bridges and sand bass fishing actually do have something in common.
On Wednesday, East Texas News traveled to the state line to check out the construction of the Sabine River bridges on Highway 84 between Joaquin and Logansport, Louisiana.
Demolition of one of the Highway 84 Sabine River bridges between Joaquin and Logansport, Louisiana continues.
The decorative railings from the 1936 crossing have been salvaged for park decor. The rest of the bridge is being dismantled and hauled to the banks.
"There won't be anybody blowing up the bridge," said Rhonda Oaks, a public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation. We're going to offload it in sections and haul it off on trucks."
Eventually it will be replaced with a two-lane bridge, just like the eastbound one already completed.
Few deny the need for newer bridges. Logansport Mayor Katherine Freeman said she knows why.
"You'd feel the bridge shake when they big trucks came on the other side, and they came every few months and had to run tests on it because it was not deemed safe," Freeman said.
Both mayors are pleased to have safer bridges, but there's another part of the story. The construction is cutting into the sand bass season, which brings revenue into Mayor William Baker's city.
"This is a big part of our economy between now and the end of summer," Baker said.
Mayor Baker is unhappy construction led to the closure of a popular boat ramp on the Texas side.
"And they tell me it's going to be closed down for a year, and I really don't see any reason why it needs to be closed," Baker said.
"It's difficult for us to allow the boat ramp to be open because of, you know, any danger to the public," Oaks explained.
Baker wants a driveway cut to the boat ramp, similar to ones leading to highway businesses.
The Louisiana mayor canceled an annual sand bass tournament. Mayor Freeman doesn't think one year without it will hurt the economy that much.
"I really don't think it will because lots of folks, you see right now, they're already sitting on the banks and they can still get to the riverfront," Freeman said.
Baker disagrees. Next week, he plans to meet with state leaders to try to get the matter resolved.
Meanwhile, Logansport has replaced sand bass season with the season of Mardi Gras to attract tourists to the state line town.
The bridge construction should be completed by the end of the year.
Note: In an earlier post a quote was mistakenly attributed to Oaks.The correction has been made.