Get ready, Stephenville. There will be 10 months of traffic delays on South Graham when construction begins on the bridge over the Bosque River.

The Graham Street bridge was completed in July 1948 and has become a landmark as well as a point of reference when offering directions to visitors. As travelers cross the bridge, they know they are entering Stephenville.

“The bridge's condition is good, but it has been deteriorating for several years, said Marc McEndree of TxDOT. “Plans for the new bridge were begun two years ago.

McEndree said that inspections are made on all area bridges on a regular basis, and the new construction has nothing to do with the recent bridge collapses in other areas. He said the replacement was more economical than the restoration.

The new structure will have two 12-foot lanes with 8-foot shoulders and an 8-foot sidewalk on both sides. It will be stained light tan and brown, and accented with Texas Stars.

“Since the park's plans for the new nature trail will include a walkway under the bridge, there will be an added ambience with the underside of the bridge also embellished with the stars, McEndree said.

During construction, one-lane traffic will be controlled by a temporary signal. Traffic will flow in both directions, but one lane at a time.

The flashing signal was activated Thursday to caution the public of the work zone. Traffic control signs will be set today.

Both entrances to the City Park on Graham Street, as well as the north end of Riverside Drive, will be closed.

City Administrator Mark Kaiser said the city appreciates TxDOT's investment in Stephenville public improvements.

“We are excited about the Graham Street bridge, Kaiser said. “This project will improve public safety for the increasing traffic flow to the downtown area and a major north-south thoroughfare for our community. It will also be an aesthetic complement to our ongoing park improvements.

Work in the area will begin in earnest on Monday. The bridge will then be reduced to one-lane traffic on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

After preparations, actual demolition of the northbound side will take place in about a week.

TxDOT advises that some delays are expected. Alternate routes should be planned when possible. The public is also reminded that tra