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Lake LBJ Communities Are Bridged Together Again After 2018 Flood

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Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
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The first vehicles cross the new FM 2900 Bridge after a 2018 flood destroyed the previous bridge.

Communities on Lake LBJ were separated after a 2018 flood knocked out the bridge that connected them. But they were finally reunited Friday, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

 
Residents from Kingsland, Sunrise Beach, Horseshoe Bay, Llano and Round Mountain used the FM 2900 Bridge to cut across the Llano River branch of the lake.

Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Diann Hodges says they knew they had to work fast to reunite the communities.
 
“We knew their ability to get to their doctors and their grocery stores and their jobs really was dependent on getting this bridge back open," she said.
 
The project took seven months and cost $17 million. About 5,000 vehicles are expected to use the bridge every day. 
 
Kingsland-Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce President Susan Patten said the Memorial Day weekend will save a very vital tourist season for local businesses.
 
“Memorial Day is a key beginning of the summer season," she said. "Businesses in this area make or break their businesses in the summer months, so it's huge that they got it open by Memorial Day."

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Credit Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
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TX-DOT reported floodwaters in 2018 flowed at 290,000 cubic feet per second, and the bridge could not withstand it.

Karen Raven lost a marina and shorefront of her business, but her restaurant and boat retail outlet, Boat Town, were spared.

She said there was a million dollars in damages, but her business recovered.  
 
“We had over 10,000 square yards of dirt, debris and stuff that had to be removed," she said. "The marina was gone, again, so it was hard.”
 
Another lake front operator, Pat Mueller of Valentine Lakeside Resort, said her 65-year old family fishing lodge was hit hard too.

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Credit Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
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“So the flood took all of my waterfront, my boat dock, my fish house," she recalled. "Destroyed the land in front. But it did not destroy our spirits.”

Many of the residents around the lake felt that the flood brought them closer together. 

A group of men ferried people across the lake on a pontoon boat while the bridge was under construction.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.