The Texas Dept. of Transportation and the Flatiron/Dragados joint venture building the new Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi have reached a resolution on the first of five design items that prompted officials to suspend construction on the $930–million bridge’s main span more than three months ago. Officials anticipate they will resolve the remaining concerns.

Work has resumed casting delta frames for the 1,661-ft-long cable-stayed bridge, Valente Olivarez Jr., TxDoT’s Corpus Christi district engineer, said during a Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Committee meeting Nov. 3. The contractor will also modify delta frame segments that had already been cast with additional steel to conform with the agreed-upon solution, he added. 

A report TxDOT had commissioned from third-party engineer International Bridge Technologies, a subsidiary of French transportation engineering firm SYSTRA, raised concerns that unreinforced connections between the delta frames and box girders would not adequately resist flexure and sheer.

Work on the towers remains suspended, with four main design safety issues and other smaller items still pending. IBT’s report identified “nonconforming work” related to the capacity of the pylon drilled shafts, deficiencies in footing caps, uplift at intermediate piers and excessive torsion and stresses during construction. 

TxDOT issued a notice of default and had threatened to remove Flatiron/Dragados if the contractor did not resolve officials’ safety concerns. In October, TxDOT said it had reached an agreement with the contractor on a framework for addressing the issues. Olivarez said he now expects to reach a resolution on the remaining concerns. 

“We feel pretty confident, the way we've been moving, that we're going to get to a solution on the rest of these items,” he said.

Flatiron/Dragados will begin remobilizing cranes this month even before reaching a resolution because of the long lead time. The contractor is now seeking skilled labor to work on the pylons.

“We are pleased to move forward with TxDOT and mobilize back to the cable-stayed bridge pylons soon,” said Lynn Allison, a spokesperson for the contractor, via email.

Work on other portions of the project has continued during the main span halt. Flatiron/Dragados has been running day and night shifts on gantry work for the approach bridges. As of Oct. 28, the north approach was 81% complete and the south approach was 87% complete, according to TxDOT. 

Once completed, the bridge would carry I-37, U.S. 181 and State Highway 286 over the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The existing bridge it is replacing would then be demolished. FIGG Bridge Engineers was the original engineer-of-record for the project, but TxDOT removed the firm from the project following the 2018 collapse of a FIGG-designed pedestrian bridge in Florida. In 2020, Flatiron/Dragados selected a team of Arup and CFC as the new engineer-of-record on the project.