Texas suspends design work on Corpus Christi’s new Harbour Bridge

Design work on an $800m cable-stayed bridge in Corpus Christi, Texas, which is being built by a joint venture of Flatiron and Dragados, has been halted by the state’s Department of Transportation (TxDOT) while it carries out a safety review.

The lead engineer for the bridge is listed as FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc., the company that designed the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami, which collapsed in March 2018, killing six people. 

TxDOT issued a statement confirming the suspension of design at the end of last week after being contacted by broadcaster KRIS TV to inquire whether FIGG had been removed from the project.

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined at a board meeting to adopt its report concluding that "load and capacity calculation errors made by FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc., are the probable cause" of the Miami bridge collapse.

In its statement, TxDOT said: "The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) continues to fully review the recent findings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for applicability to TxDOT projects. During this review, TxDOT has asked Flatiron/Dragados, LLC, the developers of the Harbor Bridge Replacement Project, to suspend design activities on the Harbor Bridge project."

After the NTSB’s determination, FIGG issued a statement blaming "a complex series of events and failings by parties at multiple stages of the project" and in particular a "failure to roughen the concrete beneath bridge member 11".

The new Harbour Bridge is to replace an existing structure at the Texan port of Corpus Christi, which carries six lanes of traffic over the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

When complete, it will be 500m long, making it the longest cable-stayed bridge in the US and Canada. It was originally due to be completed in 2021, however last month, the department announced that delays in construction would put its completion date sometime in early 2023.

The project’s website says the design incorporates "a shared-use path, a community plaza, night-time LED lighting, and xeriscape landscaping. In all, the TxDOT project includes design and construction of just over six miles of bridge and connecting roadway."

Image: Corpus Christi’s existing Harbour Bridge, built in 1951 (Liveon001/CC BY-SA 3.0)

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