Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge Design Engineers Let Go
The new Harbor Bridge needs a new designer. FIGG-Bridge Engineers Inc. was effectively fired from the job January 10 by the Texas Department of Transportation. Chief contractor Flatiron/Dragados will soon have to find a firm to replace FIGG — the bridge is already two years behind its originally announced construction schedule.
Design work was suspended on the bridge in October when it was announced that the National Transportation Safety Board cited FIGG’s work for a bridge collapse that killed six people. A pedestrian bridge on a Florida campus collapsed the day before it was set to open to the public in March 2018.
The board’s findings were “significant enough,” announced TxDOT, to replace the engineering firm.
“As we have done since the inception of this project, TxDOT will continue oversight of all design work, including work performed by the replacement design firm in the future,” said TxDOT Chief Engineer Bill Hale in a statement. “TxDOT is committed to taking the time necessary to carefully ensure and verify that the highest safety standards are met, as we do with all projects.”
FIGG released its own statement later that day stating it was “shocked” by TxDOT’s decision.
“FIGG has strongly disputed the findings of the NTSB investigation,” the statement reads. “FIGG engaged Wass, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. (WJE), the preeminent forensic engineers in the nation, to review the Florida accident. WJE’s detailed research, in-depth analysis, and physical testing shows that faulty construction of the Florida bridge — which FIGG had no hand in — was to blame for the collapse, not its design.”
According to the NTSB report, “load and capacity calculation errors made by FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc. are the probable cause of the fatal, March 15, 2018, Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami.”
Once completed, the new Harbor Bridge will be the largest bridge of its kind in the United States. The original completion date was this year, which was later moved to 2021. A new projected date is sometime in 2023.
While the search for a new design team progresses so, too, will construction, mainly on drainage, roadway, and overpass construction as well as work on the interchange at Interstate 37 with U.S. 281 and Texas 286, announced TxDOT.
According to the department's statement, all work completed so far complies with safety regulations and meets all contract requirements.
“We look forward to delivering on the promise of this project,” Hale said, “which, when complete, will be a significant improvement over the existing bridge by enhancing mobility for motorists and by allowing larger ships to access the Port of Corpus Christi.”
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