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Joint Venture Will Resume Texas Harbor Bridge Project

Tue January 24, 2023 - West Edition #3
TxDOT


Crews for Flatiron/Dragados LLC, the project developer, have remobilized and are prepared to begin erecting elements of the bridge’s superstructure.
(Photo courtesy of Texas Harbor Bridge.)
Crews for Flatiron/Dragados LLC, the project developer, have remobilized and are prepared to begin erecting elements of the bridge’s superstructure. (Photo courtesy of Texas Harbor Bridge.)
Crews for Flatiron/Dragados LLC, the project developer, have remobilized and are prepared to begin erecting elements of the bridge’s superstructure.
(Photo courtesy of Texas Harbor Bridge.) “The resumption of work on the main spans is positive news because it indicates construction progress is now under way on the project’s cable-stayed portion of the bridge,” said TxDOT Corpus Christi District Engineer Valente Olivarez Jr.
(Photo courtesy of Texas Harbor Bridge.) The project now has a tentative completion date of sometime in 2025.
(Photo courtesy of Texas Harbor Bridge.)

The Texas Department of Transportation recently announced that work will resume on the new Harbor Bridge's main spans.

"The resumption of work on the main spans is positive news because it indicates construction progress is now under way on the project's cable-stayed portion of the bridge," said TxDOT Corpus Christi District Engineer Valente Olivarez Jr. "TxDOT and the developer are excited to begin this work because it represents a huge step forward for the project."

Crews for Flatiron/Dragados LLC, the project's joint venture developer, have remobilized and are prepared to begin erecting elements of the bridge's superstructure. This will consist of lifting the first delta frames into place and continuing construction on the main span towers.

Olivarez said the resumption of work indicates Flatiron/Dragados' commitment to achieving its publicly released work schedule that shows a project completion date of 2025.

Project Pause

TxDOT and Flatiron Dragados LLC (FDLLC) executed a signed letter agreement in November 2022 that established the legal framework for resolving the safety issues identified in the design of the New Harbor Bridge Project.

The agreement affirms FDLLC's responsibility to complete this work at FDLLC's expense and to TxDOT's satisfaction.

There was still progress that needed to occur between TxDOT and FDLLC in order to finalize and approve the design changes required to address the safety issues identified by TxDOT and allow for an updated schedule to complete the project.

"TxDOT understands and very much shares in the frustration that the residents and businesses of the Corpus Christi region have felt over the delays associated with the work on this project," Executive Director Marc Williams said in his remarks at the Texas House of Representatives Transportation Committee Hearing in Corpus Christi. "Our commitment remains to see this project through to completion in a manner that is: safe, responsible and expedited and to quickly provide the region with an updated schedule as soon as the design changes are approved."

Texas Department of Transportation officials and Flatiron/Dragados made an announcement during a tour of the incomplete north and south bridge approaches with local media outlets.

The project now has a tentative completion date of sometime in 2025, said Olivarez. He said a more specific timeline would be provided when the design concerns are resolved.

"Flatiron/Dragados feels pretty confident that we are looking at a 2025 date with completion and opening, but … it depends on finalizing the [design] solutions," Olivarez said while briefing media under the new bridge approach on North Beach.

TxDOT and Flatiron/Dragados' engineer of record, Arup-CFC, resolved their design dispute concerning the bridge's delta frames. The redesign, which Olivarez said was approved on, included additional steel to specific parts of the frame.

As a result, the work of precasting the delta frames could resume at the developer's Robstown precasting site, said Olivarez and Lynn Allison, a spokesperson of Flatiron/Dragados.

Bridge Design Leads to Project Delay

To validate the work, TxDOT hired an independent bridge engineering firm, SYSTRA International Bridge Technologies (IBT), in 2020, to provide a third-party review of the bridge design.

The safety concerns center around design issues, which include the foundations, load and weight capacity, structure and the future stability of the main stay bridge.

TxDOT formally raised these issues with FDLLC on April 29, 2022, through a notice of non-conforming work and then directed FDLLC to pause construction on July 15, 2022, to ensure further construction did not result in unsafe conditions.

About the Project

The HBP is replacing the existing Harbor Bridge (built in 1959) with a six-lane structure that has a median barrier and shoulders, along with a 10 ft.-wide shared-use path; and is reconstructing portions of U.S. 181, I-37 (1.6 mi.), and the Crosstown Expressway (1 mi.). It also includes the development, design, construction and maintenance of a total of 6.44 mi. of bridges and connecting roadways.

The original new bridge design incorporates a number of aesthetic features, including a community plaza, nighttime LED lighting and xeriscape landscaping. FDLLC does not anticipate any drastic or noticeable changes to the main span design once Arup-CFC completes its analysis.

The new cable stay, concrete-segmental bridge, the longest in the United States at 1,661 ft. long, will have a navigational clearance of 205 ft. and its main tower will be 538 ft. high. It has a projected lifespan of 170 years.




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