The Belton Journal
Congressman John R.Carter (Texas 31st District) paid a visit to Belton on Friday, when he announced that the City of Belton will receive $5 million in secured federal funds for the Bridge Replacement in Belton’s last low water crossing.
Carter, along with Mayor Wayne Carpenter, and City Manager Sam Listi, stood side by side on Friday morning at the bridge located at East Central Avenue/Spring Street.
Mayor Wayne Carpenter said, “This incredible announcement will address a critical infrastructure need in Belton and Bell County.”
For decades, the goal has been for removal of the current bridge, flood mitigation, and provide access to essential city infrastructure, to include lift station, sewer lines, and water lines.
The bridge replacement will provide easy access for emergency vehicles, personal vehicles, and for private and public properties east of IH-35, regardless of the weather. It will improve access to important City Facilities, such as the Regional Law Enforcement Training Facility, and development of landlocked properties at the Shirttail Bend Road crossing over Nolan Creek.
City Manager Sam Listi reminded those who attended the announcement about the September 8, 2010, flood that was a “wake up” call for the community.
The low water crossing at East Central Avenue/Spring Street, was the site of the significant rain event for the nine inches of rain Belton received at that time.
The crossing compounded emergency response for rescues, as well as access to the sewer lift station threatening the City’s sewer system.
Congressman Carter (known as Judge) made a visit after the event. Judge stood on the crossing with former Mayor Jim Covington, and Listi, on what had become a dam with debris exceeding 10 feet high.
Belton’s response to the low river crossing included a Nolan Creek Watershed Study, and protocols for enhancements to fund an Emergency Flood Warning System with five monitoring stations, a City EOC at the Police Department, and a Code Red Alert System for residents and businesses, were among some the things the City did to protect Belton.
The City was unsuccessful, after repeatedly identifying the problem to TxDOT’s bridge replacement program, to obtain funds – until now.
In late 2021, Congressman Carter’s office approached the City with an inquiry about critically needed infrastructure projects.
The City submitted the project in January 2022 for Community Project Funding. With Carter’s persistence, he secured $5 million in federal funds through Congress, that will go to the $6.2 million bridge replacement. The City will fund the remaining $1.2 million of the project.
Congressman Carter said the government won’t pay for the whole project. “Infrastructure includes billions of dollars in competitive funding. Belton identified an infrastructure need, and the leaders have a proven record of reinvesting in the community. I want to support them in this overdue project that will save lives, make better access to the residents, the City Facilities, and hopefully free up more available land for redevelopment,” Carter said.
When asked if there could be more federal funding for the project, he said if the leadership can identify and clearly state their priorities, “I will make the ask.”
Carter said that Community Funds sometimes get criticized. These funds are available through the discretionary budget of Congress. The fact is, they only make up about one-tenth of one-percent of the discretionary budget.
Project planning is expected to be completed in 2023, and bridge replacement soon after. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held in the future.