TxDOT Finds Flaws in New Harbor Bridge Design

Aug. 5, 2022
TxDOT will not compromise on safety for the new Harbor Bridge

In a press release put out by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the organization states that the Harbor Bridge's design "of the cable-stayed design is highly problematic," and that if it were allowed to finish, "would create safety concerns."

TxDOT states that the flaws would affect foundations, load and weight capacity, structure, and stability of the bridge.

The construction on the Harbor Bridge was stopped on July 15th.

"The last action TxDOT has wanted to take is to delay this project any further, but again, we cannot and will not compromise on safety," TxDOT states in the release.

The company handling the new bridge's construction is Flatiron/Dragados.

In a letter given to Flatiron/Dragados Project Manager Keith Armstrong, TxDOT specifically points to five "primary areas of concern:"

  • inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts.
  • deficient pile caps that could lead the bridge to collapse under certain load conditions.
  • design defects in the delta frame — framing that supports the bridge from underneath — primarily related to the connections.
  • significant uplift at the intermediate piers.
  • excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction.

The letter to Armstrong also accuses Flatiron/Dragados of flagrantly failing to live up to its end of the contract by not "adequately (addressing) the nonconforming design," stating that it and the engineer of record Arup-CFC "continue to deny any problems with the design despite ample evidence to the contrary."

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," said Hunter. "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.”

The release from TxDOT states that the flaws were found after consulting with independent consultants to review the bridge's design. The letter references the International Bridge Technologies (IBT), a bridge design and engineering service.

"Notwithstanding the continuing denials from FDLLC and its EOR, TxDOT does not believe it is responsible or safe to proceed with the erection of the NHB superstructure (including, but not limited to the delta frame installation) because that work exacerbates four of the five major issues raised by IBT," the letter states.

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Source: TxDOT