Corpus Christi plans now for land under old Harbor Bridge
An aerial photo of how the new Harbor Bridge lines up against the old bridge shows just how much land will be opened to development or parks in North Beach once the old bridge has been torn down. Under construction since 2016, the new bridge is not expected to be completed until 2023. The old bridge, which carries about 60,000 vehicles a day across the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, won’t be torn down until the new bridge is operational.
The Corpus Christi City Council might start the tear-down process a little earlier. At its regular meeting Tuesday, June 8, the council considers whether or not to take down the Harbor Bridge lights. Now 10 years old, the lights have been falling and failing due to metal bracket corrosion.
The through-arch bridge, which was completed in 1956, is not expected to be fully cleared away until 2025.
A whole new landscape will open where the old bridge once cast its shadow on North Beach and parts of downtown. A newly formed coalition is already working on plans for the land, a process that usually doesn’t begin until the structure has been removed.
“We're not going to wait around for decades and ask what we're going to do with this vacant property,” Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni told reporters. “We're going to have plans before the bridge is even demolished about who should control the land.”
The Harbor Bridge Right-of-way Coalition was formed to coordinate plans drawn by the city of Corpus Christi, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, the Downtown Management District, Nueces County, and the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The hope is that the Texas Department of Transportation, which owns some of the land and uses other port- and city-owned parcels for easements, will declare certain areas surplus and transfer other sections as no-cost deeds in agreements with local agencies. Areas ripe for development include parcels of land around North Beach and the old Nueces County Courthouse on the downtown side of the bridge.
“To have the opportunity to do urban redevelopment on a blank slate is absolutely a once-in-a-generation, or even perhaps more rare, opportunity,” Jeff Pollack, planning director of the Port of Corpus Christi, told reporters. Pollack leads the Harbor Bridge Right-of-way Coalition.
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