Shortcuts can often save lives. In the case of a medical emergency, with every second counting, the shorter a distance and the less traffic interference can mean the difference between life and death.
With this in mind, the Fort Worth City Council and the City of Benbrook are discussing collaboration on an emergency access bridge.
Benbrook officials approached the City of Fort Worth about their desire to construct an emergency access bridge across the Trinity River north of Interstate 20 to connect the I-20 service road to Bellaire Boulevard.
Although the bridge would be completely within their city limits, Benbrook officials approached the City of Fort Worth because they said they were aware of opposition from Fort Worth residents who are concerned about the potential increase in traffic if this bridge is ever made available to the general public. Additionally, in order to build the bridge, Benbrook must gain approval from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to use I-20 right-of-way on which the bridge would be located, and Benbrook desires support from the City of Fort Worth.
In an effort to ease the fear of residents concerned about the potential for the bridge becoming open to the general public someday, cities said they would meet jointly with TxDOT to request that TxDOT grant an easement for an emergency access bridge to the City of Fort Worth and that Fort Worth will grant a license to Benbrook, which includes the right to reject the final bridge design if it does not conform to the terms and condition of the agreement.
All construction and ongoing maintenance costs will be at the City of Benbrook’s expense, and the City of Fort Worth will have the right to revoke the license if use of the bridge is ever changed to more than for emergency access.
District 3 Council Member Brian Byrd said he believes a solution can be reached without building a bridge. However, he added, since Benbrook officials are persistent, this contract will give Fort Worth residents the protections they need.
“The most important thing is that we do not need to increase traffic on Bellaire Drive,” he said. “An emergency only bridge will allow Benbrook to take care of their people, and at the same time will not increase traffic on Bellaire Drive. We must protect our neighborhoods in Fort Worth.”
In December, the Benbrook City Council voted to initiate engineering design of a single-lane, gated, emergency access-only bridge over the Clear Fork Trinity River.