Published on November 3, 2020

Dangerous Sportsman’s Span Bridge may be replaced in 2021

By Jan Edwards
The Bulletin

With any luck, we’ll all be saying a fond farewell to a local landmark, the Sportsman’s Span Bridge, which has taken on storms, hurricanes and wrecks since 1957.

For those of you not familiar with southwestern Brazoria County, that is the bridge over the San Bernard River on FM 2611 about 3.40 miles west of Highway 36.

The Sportsman’s Span Bridge replaced a hand-operated drawbridge, which replaced Bennett’s Ferry or Churchill Ferry, roughly a mile upriver from the original location.

I say fond farewell because that bridge had outlived its time and was spooky - at best - when meeting oncoming traffic on that bridge (especially trucks with oversized loads) or traveling behind vehicles with heavy items that could fall out while going over the steep slope.
I have a strong dislike for that bridge because I know of one death that occurred on it, a car fire, and one instance of a boat motor falling off on the hood of the following truck.

The reason the road is so dangerous is that there is one lane of traffic (one coming and one going) with no center divide and no shoulders on either side, and it is so steep, you cannot see oncoming traffic until you meet it.

I have even had one person with a faster truck than he had sense pass me on top of that bridge.

I have been an advocate to widen and replace that bridge since 2009. The bridge was supposed to have been “let for bids” at least six times. It was listed as tentative sometimes and actually “approved” at least twice before this time, but something always happened. Here it is 2020, and the bridge never got attention.

If you want to follow the progress of this process, the bridge (Project ID #BR 2018(103) is in TxDOT’s Houston District (their office is in Angleton for Brazoria County), Google TxDOT 2021 Bid Letting Schedule. I checked again, and the bridge is still set to let for bids 2021 – and it looks like it is actually going to start next year. I contacted TxDOT and asked what to expect, and I’ll share that with you now.

The Sportsman’s Span bridge on FM 2611 over the San Bernard River (replacement bridge ID # 2524-02-022) is approved and is due to let for bids in January 2021. It should take five to eight weeks to select the contractor with the lowest bid, and then construction should start in March or April.

The old bridge will stay in place while the new bridge is constructed, which should take about a year. It will be constructed completely in TxDOT’s right of way on the downriver side of the current bridge. One side of the bridge will be built, then the opposite side, and then they will be joined in the middle.

The new bridge will be configured with one 12-foot lane east-bound and one 12-foot lane west-bound, with 10-foot shoulders on each side (Thank God). There will be a double yellow stripe down the middle. It will be a bit taller than the old bridge to accommodate the taller push boats and their antennae, but the slope should be about the same as the current bridge, as the run-out will be longer.
To get some idea what the new bridge will look like, look at the bridge over the San Bernard River at FM 521 and add the slope of the current bridge at FM 2611.

The excuse for the impediment to letting for bids in the past has been not having a Coast Guard permit. But I was told this bridge WOULD be let in January 2021 - only time will tell. I hope it happens.

I know I will be the first one there with a bottle of champagne when the new bridge is complete!

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)