$802.9M Harbor Bridge Takes Shape in Corpus Christi, Texas

Tue April 24, 2018 - West Edition #9
Chuck Harvey – CEG Correspondent


Supported by extensive research and planning, a modern and massive new $802.9 million U.S. 181 Harbor Bridge is taking form in Corpus Christi, Texas.
(Flatiron/Dragados LLC photo)
Supported by extensive research and planning, a modern and massive new $802.9 million U.S. 181 Harbor Bridge is taking form in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Flatiron/Dragados LLC photo)
Supported by extensive research and planning, a modern and massive new $802.9 million U.S. 181 Harbor Bridge is taking form in Corpus Christi, Texas.
(Flatiron/Dragados LLC photo) The project includes replacement of the existing Harbor Bridge and reconstruction of portions of U.S. 181, I-37 and the Crosstown Expressway.
(Flatiron/Dragados LLC photo) “The new Harbor Bridge is expected to take four years to complete,” said Lorette Williams, public information coordinator of Flatiron/Dragados LLC, design-build contractor for the project.
(Flatiron/Dragados LLC photo)

Supported by extensive research and planning, a modern and massive new $802.9 million U.S. 181 Harbor Bridge is taking form in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The project includes replacement of the existing Harbor Bridge and reconstruction of portions of U.S. 181, I-37 and the Crosstown Expressway.

Designing the project was a major undertaking. It required plans for a project covering 6.44 mi. of bridge and connecting roadway.

Work on the project began in summer of 2016 with completion of the new Harbor Bridge scheduled for late spring, 2020. Crews will begin work on crosstown I-37 in early spring of 2020.

"The new Harbor Bridge is expected to take four years to complete," said Lorette Williams, public information coordinator of Flatiron/Dragados LLC, design-build contractor for the project.

Williams added that design-build contractor Flatiron/Dragados LLC has numerous subcontractors throughout the project.

"Currently we have a number of subcontractors in place with companies including, but not limited to construction and demolition services," she said.

About 149 Flatiron/Dragados LLC employees are on the job each day.

Texas Department of Transportation selected Flatiron/Dragados LLC through a competitive bid process.

Ready for Travel

The new bridge will be ready for traffic upon completion.

"Once the new bridge is ready for travel, traffic will be shifted from the current Harbor Bridge on to the new bridge and the current Harbor Bridge will be closed," Williams said.

The new bridge will have navigational clearance of 205 ft. Its main span is 1,661 ft. long. The main tower will be 538 ft. high.

The existing bridge has a 620-ft. span and a navigational clearance is 138 ft. The existing bridge opened in 1959.

Demolition of the old Harbor Bridge starts when the new bridge is completed and will take about one year to complete.

Crews will construct six-lane sections of U.S. 181, three lanes in each direction, with a median barrier; reconstruct about 1.6 mi. of I-37 and reconstruct 1 mi. of the Crosstown Expressway.

A feasibility study completed by TxDOT in 2003 concluded that U.S. 181 and the Harbor Bridge must be improved to maintain a safe and efficient transportation corridor.

TxDOT leads and directs the extensive project, which is in the final phase, including design and construction of the bridge.

Bridge Design

The new bridge was designed to celebrate Corpus Christi's and the port's modern technology. Over the past year, the project's design, construction, and operations and maintenance experts worked in unity to provide a bridge that celebrates Corpus Christi and its port with modern technology.

The new structure will be constructed of concrete — the original bridge was constructed primarily of steel — and designed to last more than 170 years. The bridge will include cable-stay bridge design. Once complete, it will be the longest, cable-stay, concrete-segmental bridge in the United States.

A concrete bridge solution provides corrosion resistance, maximizes mobility, preserves port operations, engages the local communities and helps provide schedule and cost certainty.

Built From the Top

Crews will build the main span "from the top" using precast box girders and precast delta frames. No stabilizing wires will be anchored to land and water during construction as is typically the case for edge-beam cable-stay systems.

The main span substructure will be built entirely on land. Prefabricating the bridge superstructure segments off-site minimizes actual work on site, improves worker safety, improves quality and eliminates risks associated with pouring concrete over the active waterway.

Heavy Equipment

With construction on the new Harbor Bridge ramping up, delivery and set up of specialized equipment is now taking center stage. In late March, three large cranes were delivered and set-up for use on the project site.

They included a 110-ton crane; a 160-ton rough terrain crane; and a 275-ton crane used for various tasks throughout the duration of the project.

The cranes will first be used during the heavy task of test pile driving.

During test pile driving, data is collected during the process and used for a number of purposes, including determining how deep the final foundation piling should be placed in the ground.

The foundation piles for the new bridge and approaching roadways will include more than 195,000 linear ft. of concrete piling and are expected to reach depths of 120 ft. About 175,000 cu. yds. of concrete is expected to be used over the course of the project.

Impacts

The Harbor Bridge project has positive impacts, especially in job creation.

"The construction of the new bridge will have a positive economic impact in the area," Williams said. "It is estimated, over the course of the project, that the project needs will peak at between 500 and 700 workers."

Safety

The Harbor Bridge has high maintenance costs and its 138 ft. of navigational clearance, which met World War II standards when it was built, make it difficult for the Port of Corpus Christi to compete with other Gulf Coast deep water ports because of larger ship sizes today.

A new bridge will allow TxDOT to improve safety and the movement of people and goods, (including military equipment and Port assets) throughout the region; provide adequate capacity to meet future traffic demand; and provide greater economic development opportunities for the Port of Corpus Christi.

Community Impacts

Numerous road closures will be required over the four-year construction of the new bridge and connecting roadways. Consequently, the project will affect some individuals in the area. Communication is expected to be vital in reducing problems for residents and business owners.

"There are many challenges on a project of this scope and size, but ensuring traffic continues to flow safely and efficiently during construction and minimizing traffic re-routs or delays during the project is a top priority," Williams said.

Residents and business owners can call the toll-free hotline at 1-877-227-4144 to report concerns, discuss issues or ask questions about the project. The public can also send correspondence to publicinformation@harborbridgeproject.com. Additionally, they can visit the project website at www.harborbridgeproject.com.

A variety of communication tools including public meetings and presentations, social media and media-traffic advisories will be used to keep the public informed and updated on project happenings.

Harbor Bridge Project property and relocation experts will contact affected owners to review options so they will be able to make the most informed decision to best meet their specific needs. CEG