Bankhead Hwy bridges -- Garland TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 32° 54.530 W 096° 35.737
14S E 724865 N 3643744
Quick Description: Garland's Bankhead Hwy bridges were closed to traffic in the 1970s, but the seeds of their abandonment were sown in the 1950s, when hydrological studies for a future lake proved the need to reroute the highway once the lake filled up.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 11/18/2012 7:08:00 PM
Waymark Code: WMFQGR
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Crystal Sound
Views: 10

Long Description:
The Bankhead Highway opened in 1919, in the early days of the automobile age. It was the nation's second transcontinental highway, running from the Ellipse in front of the White House in Washington DC to the Plaza at 4th and Broadway Street in downtown San Diego CA. As the Bankhead crossed the country, it ran down Main Street and right through the town square in Garland Texas.

The Bankhead Highway Association built two concrete bridges over the Rowlett Creek swamp in East Garland. Although utilitarian in appearance, for the time these bridges were state-of-the-art. After they bridge ends were poured, two rows of four glass marbles were embedded in the concrete. These tiny pieces of glass reflected car headlights at night, alerting drivers to the bridge. These simple marbles were a major safety enhancement in for the time. It's amazing to think of how far highway safety engineering has come since then.

In 1925, the Federal Government decided to replace the practice of naming highways (such as the Lincoln, Dixie, Lee and Bankhead) with a standardized highway numbering system. The route of the Bankhead Highway from Texarkana through Garland to Dallas was renamed US Highway 67. Once in Dallas, Bankhead from Dallas to El Paso was renamed US Hwy 80.

As decades passed, the country changed. New roads were built to knit the country together and accomodate an ever-increasing numbers of cars and trucks on inadequate roads. Soon, the wide multi-laned high-speed interstates would divert traffic away from the old highway routes that ran through (instead of around) towns.

The trend to interstates over US highways spurred the next change for this waymarked stretch of the US 67 when the US67 was rerouted in 1961 to run parallel to the new Interstate Highway 30, several miles to the south.

The section of the old US 67 that ran from Garland east to Greenville w redesignated Texas State Highway 66. Then in 1964, SH 66 was rerouted a few hundred yards north to avoid being inundated by a newly-approved reservoir that a decade later would be named Lake Ray Hubbard.

That is how the waymarked part of the original Bankhead Hwy/US67/SH66 alignment in Garland got completely dropped as a highway segment. This part of the historic highway was renamed "Commerce Street," a utilitarian and mundane nod to its historic role in Garland's growth. Garland's new Commerce Street stretched a little over a mile: starting at a fork off of SH 66 near Dairy Road, crossing Centerville Road, and finally ending at the Garland-Rowlett city limit line.

Time passed, and the western segment of Commerce street from Centerville Rd transitioned from busy transcontinental highway to a lightly-traveled industrial roadway predominately used by city garbage trucks and service vehicles.

The eastern segment (and the waymark bridges) languished. This segment crossed Rowlett Creek. It was mostly swampy floodplain. Nothing had developed there in 60+ years, and nothing could ever develop there. That's why the short segment of Commerce Street east of Centerville Road was fully abandoned within a few years.

Upon abandonment, the asphalt pavement was scraped up and recycled for other road projects. The waymarked bridges along the abandoned road were left in palce, because it wasn't cost-effective to remove them. Soon the bridges were overgrown by catbrier vines and poison ivy. Although they had been vital links between Garland TX and the rest of the country for many decades, these bridges were forgotten.

But they would become useful again in the early 1990s, when Garland Power and Light upgraded the power lines through an easement to serve the new Rowlett Creek Water Treatment Plant. These waymarked bridges and the old highway roadbed provided the only convenient access across Rowlett Creek to the city's ROW and powerline easement.

Today, GP&L trucks travel back and forth over the waymarked bridges, building and maintaining the powerlines. City mowing crews use the old road and bridges too, in their never-ending fight to keep the vegetation in the powerline easement under some sort of control.

After This small abandoned scrap of what had been the nation's second transcontinental highway, then US67, then SH66, then Commerce Street was being used again,

Although motorized public access is cut-off by padlocked gates, the old road and bridges are visible from the new Rowlett Creek bridge on SH 66 just east of Centerville Road, especially in the wintertime. You can also walk in to see the bridges along the abandoned segment of old Commerce Street. Stay a while when you do: There are many caches in the area up and down GP&L's powerline easement.

Parking coordinates to visit this waymark are at the nearby convenience store: N 32 54.557 W 096 35.922.
Original Use: Vehicle - Car / Truck

Date Built: 1920

Construction: Concrete

Condition: Good

See this website for more information: [Web Link]

Date Abandoned: 1965

Bridge Status - Orphaned or Adopted.: Adopted

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QuesterMark wrote comment for Bankhead Hwy bridges -- Garland TX 7/29/2014 QuesterMark wrote comment for it
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