The Texas Dept. of Transportation on Jan. 10 removed FIGG Bridge Engineers as engineer-of-record from its $800-million US 181 Harbor Bridge replacement project in Corpus Christi, instructing developer Flatiron/Dragados LLC to replace the embattled design firm as the project’s lead engineer.
The action came after TxDOT conducted a review of FIGG’s design work that the agency initiated last October, just after the National Transportation Safety Board issued its findings on the 2018 pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami.
NTSB concluded that errors by FIGG had been the main reasons for the fatal bridge collapse.
In announcing its recent decision to end FIGG’s involvement with the Harbor Bridge project, TxDOT again cited the NTSB findings, according to reports.
A statement by the Tallahassee, Fla.-based bridge design firm stated: “FIGG was shocked by Texas Dept. of Transportation’s press release concerning FIGG’s design role on the cable-stayed main span and relating this to the construction accident on a pedestrian bridge in Miami.”
The Corpus Christi job includes replacing the existing Harbor Bridge and reconstructing portions of US 181, I-37 and the Crosstown Expressway. The project, first set for completion in 2021, is now targeting a 2023 completion.
Meanwhile, the Harris County [Texas] Toll Road Authority stopped construction on a portion of the Sam Houston Tollway Ship Channel Bridge on Jan. 11, after an independent design review uncovered an issue related to design of the curved portions of the main pylons’ legs on the bridge’s cable-stayed segment. The authority said construction will remain stalled until at least March to allow for the independent review.
In 2012, FIGG Bridge Engineers won a contract to design a long-span bridge on the $962-million Ship Channel Bridge.
The project includes a 4.1-mile concrete segmental cable-stayed bridge on Sam Houston Tollway between SH 255 and IH 10. The pylons are expected to be 514 ft high, while the main span will be 1,320 ft long. Construction began in March 2018.
The county authority hired COWI North America Inc. in March 2019 for a complete independent review of the engineering design performed by FIGG “in the interest of the project.”
“The process itself to reach the completed design included multiple design reviews and the resolution of any items were incorporated in the bid set for construction plans,” noted the agency.
The authority said COWI’s review “identified the potential for buckling in the long walls of the pylon. FIGG independently confirmed COWI’s concern and has already determined a path forward to eliminate this possibility.”
Work will resume on the pylons once FIGG and COWI decide on a design fix.
While analysis is not complete, the agency added, “We are aware of two additional issues that are several months away from being constructed. As such, no additional stoppage of work is expected at this time.”