State archives' value on displayTexans are naturally proud of their state's history, heritage and sense of place. They take particular pride in the Lone Star flag, which represents a bold republic that won its hard-fought independence from Mexico, and they relish the events -- both tragic and triumphant -- that led to a total of six flags flying at some point over this territory.And, yes, most Texans realize that people and cultures existed here thousands of years before Europeans set foot on the land that eventually would take its name from a term used by East Texas Indians to mean "friends." Preserving and documenting the state's long, complicated history is a mammoth, tedious and costly task that, for the most part, falls to the Texas State Library and Archives. It is charged with collecting, cataloguing and safekeeping millions of the state's most important records and artifacts.The archives tell the stories not just of well-known heroes, but unknown peasants and slaves; not just of events recorded in history books, but tales most us have never heard; not just of the flags that have flown "over" Texas, but of some carried into battles during the revolution against Mexico and during the Civil War.It took another "battle" to refocus attention on the treasures housed in the state archives. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson won the fight to have William Travis' "victory or death" letter returned to the Alamo for the first time since it was dispatched 177 years ago while the mission was under siege by the Mexican Army. The letter will be on exhibit at the Alamo, under heavy guard, for two weeks beginning Feb. 23 to mark the anniversary of the historically defining battle there. Officials with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission were reluctant to have the letter leave Austin, fearing any number of possible catastrophes, including theft or damage by light. Protecting the state's treasured documents is important -- but so is letting the public see them, study them and learn from them.That's a good reason for Texans to insist that the Legislature adequately fund the agency, which two years ago had its budget slashed by 88 percent, causing a reduction of 37 positions. Proud Texans can't take much pride in that kind of neglect.West Seventh arches taking shapeThey stand a short way north of a grassy parking lot, visible from Chuy's and the Parkside at So7 apartments: White arches destined to become the signature of a new West Seventh Street bridge crossing the Clear Fork between downtown Fort Worth and a bustling living, dining and shopping corridor.Plans call for 12 arches on the $25.9 million bridge, each 24 feet tall and weighing 300 tons. The bridge is a joint project of the city of Fort Worth, the Texas Department of Transportation and Sundt Construction Inc. of San Antonio.The arches are being built from pre-cast concrete; they will be part of the first pre-cast network bridge in the world.In artists' renderings, the arches separate vehicle traffic on the roadway from pedestrians. That's far safer than the current sidewalks that are exposed to vehicles rushing between the Cultural District and downtown.Sidewalks protected by barriers also will be more likely to entice workers and residents to walk to the increasingly attractive near-west side.But gain comes with some pain.Replacing the existing bridge will require shutting it down. The plan is to reduce lanes to one each way in February then close the bridge entirely from summer until November.East-west traffic will detour to West Lancaster Avenue. (fortworthtexas.gov/seventhstreetbridge)But the improvements look like they will be worth the inconvenience.