CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A massive bridge that’s under construction across Corpus Christi Ship Channel is in danger of collapse, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
In July, construction on the bridge was ordered halted while officials studied issues with the project.
The Harbor Bridge Project is a $802.9 million project to replace the existing through arch bridge with a modern cable-stayed design. The bridge is designed to connect with SH 286 at its southern terminus and U.S. 181 on the north.
But, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the bridge has major flaws that would cause it to “collapse under certain load conditions” should developer Flatiron Dragados LLC (FDLLC) finish the project without making design changes.
TxDOT said it has “concluded there is or will be an emergency or danger to persons or property related to the design deficiencies.”
“We cannot and will not compromise on safety,” TxDOT said in a statement. “We can assure the public that we are prepared to take the steps necessary to complete this project in the safest and most efficient manner possible.”
In its letter to FDLCC, TxDOT said the firm International Bridge Technologies (IBT) confirmed in an independent review “significant design flaws that raise serious concerns about the safety of the New Harbor Bridge.”
IBT had five primary areas of concern:
- Inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts.
- Deficiencies in footing caps that led IBT to report that the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions.
- Delta frame design defects, primarily related to the connections between the delta frames and the adjacent precast box units.
- Significant uplift at the intermediate piers.
- Excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction.
District 32 State Rep. Todd Hunter is upset over the lack of transparency through this situation.
“If we’re talking about a bridge collapse, let’s find a timeline to fix it. Let’s find out what happened,” Hunter told KRISTV. “Let’s now makes sure the public feels safe because that bridge now, everybody’s going to watch it.”
Hunter assured that any overrun costs that are incurred from the stoppage in work, will not come back on local governments.
“The details need to all be put out there,” he said. “It’s taxpayer public money. They deserve it. And so, transparency and the push for information is the key right now.”
This news comes as the interval between inspections of America’s highway bridges is getting longer following the June 6 implementation of a final rule by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
This new rule extends inspection requirements for many bridges from two years to four years — and in some cases, six years.
FHWA’s new requirements update the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) program, which maintains a bridge inventory and reports bridge inspection results — particularly critical findings of structural or safety-related deficiencies — to the FHWA.
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