The Goodman Bridge is the oldest Angelina River crossing in Nacogdoches County. Since the turn of the century travelers have been crossing it to go to and from Cherokee and Nacogdoches counties. Consequently, it has a lot of sentimental value. Larry Bailey travels it twice a day to and from work. He said, " The Goodman Bridge has been in our family forever. My mother and dad met at this site before they got married. " A painting of the bridge hangs in the family home, but now Bailey is putting safety first. He's tired of seeing heavy trucks cross the bridge that often exceed weight limits. Bailey said, " I'm concerned about maybe that it's weakened to the point that sometime there may be a disaster here. "
Bailey learned his concerns are shared by commissioners representing counties on both sides of the Angelina. Commissioner Reggie Cotton has new wooden planks installed sometimes as often as twice a month. Cotton knows the heavy trucks aren't good for the wooden bridge. " It won't stand up under it. It's not built and designed for that, " said Cotton of the bridge that's rated to carry nothing heavier than a school bus.
But commercial truck drivers don't appear too concerned. In a short period of time two were seen crossing the bridge. One driver of a salt water truck claimed when his trailer is empty he's not breaking any regulations. He said, " We don't come back this way heavy, but we'll go this way empty. I wouldn't even think about coming back this way loaded. " But apparently some of his co workers do. Cherokee County Commissioner Kevin Pierce carried photographs of a truck he followed over the Goodman Bridge. Pierce said, " I followed two across here two weeks ago that were loaded with salt water. I saw the float on the back of the truck indicating the tank was full. "
The Department of Public Safety and Nacogdoches County enforcement are stepping up patrol of the Goodman Bridge, but it's in such a remote location that it's difficult providing constant patrol.
The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to replace the Goodman Bridge. A design contract is in place and surveying has begun, but construction probably won't happen until 2009.
In the meantime historians are wanting to save the bridge or even move it. Cotton said, " I suggested Lanana Creek crossing for a walking bridge or something like that. I think that would be be nice. " The highway department is open to suggestions pertaining to the location of the new bridge or the relocation of the existing bridge.