Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Historic bridge for sale
Polk County Enterprise - October 2008
One of East Texas’ best known bridges is up for sale, but so far there are no takers. Stretching across the Neches River, which separates Angelina and Trinity County, the Texas Highway 94 bridge has been in place since 1936, making it more than 70 years old. The Texas Department of Transportation calls it “a historic bridge” because it is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The structure is about 27 feet wide and 1,588 feet long. The state agency, which wants to replace the bridge with a modern facility, advertised the bridge for sale last year, but Robert Allen of the agency’s Lufkin office said there were no buyers, even though the state offered “limited financial assistance” with the relocation. Allen said a buyer would not have been able to use the bridge for vehicles, only for pedestrians. A priority would have been that the bridge remain open to the public in some manner.
The Highway 94 bridge is no lightweight. Made of concrete and steel Ibeams, the old bridge has supported millions of cars and trucks traveling across the river between Lufkin and Groveton during its more than seven decades. The bridge’s location is also unique. Because Angelina County was a “dry” county during much of the bridge’s existence, Trinity County entrepreneurs built a cluster of taverns and liquor stores on the western end of the bridge and for years enjoyed a thriving trade with Lufkin residents. Until Angelina County went “wet” in recent years, the Highway 94 cluster was the closest place Lufkinites could pick up a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine. More than a few automobiles driven by drunken Lufkinites left scrapes on the old Highway 94 bridge as they made their way back to Lufkin. On Saturday nights, you could always find a Texas highway patrol trooper poised on the Angelina County side of the bridge, waiting for inebriated drivers. “In those days, we could always issue enough citations on Highway 94 every Saturday night to pay for our salaries,” joked a retired trooper.
Today, the establishments on the west side of the river have fallen on hard times because beer and wine are sold freely in Lufkin. The Highway 94 bridge isn’t the only one owned by Texas that’s looking for a buyer. The Texas Highway 84 bridge crossing the Sabine River between Haslam, a sawmill ghost town, and Logansport in Louisiana, is also up for sale. But, like the Highway 94 structure over the Neches River, no one seems to want a used bridge.