CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas Department of Transportation said Tuesday the developer of the new Harbor Bridge has defaulted on its contract and has 15 days to fix design flaws with the bridge or TxDOT will fire them.
This comes a little more than a month after TxDOT halted all work on the new Harbor Bridge and later said the bridge was at risk of "collapse" should work continue.
"This is unfortunate, disappointing and unacceptable," Executive Director of TxDOT Marc Williams said about developer Flatiron/Dragados LLC's (FDLCC) "lack of responsiveness" to safety concerns brought by TxDOT.
Williams said TxDOT has long had questions about key design elements of the new Harbor Bridge.
"Over the course of the project, there have been assurances by Flatiron/Dragados that these issues had been or would be addressed," Williams said.
TxDOT hired a fully independent bridge engineering firm, Systra International Bridge Technologies, to confirm that those concerns were addressed and found that they were not.
"Earlier this year, this review identified several areas of concern that generally involved instances where the bridge design did not meet various industry standards specified by TxDOT," Williams said. Issues with foundations, load and weight capacity and the future stability of mainstay bridge were all included in the independent review.
After the review was complete, TxDOT sent FDLCC a notice of nonconforming work on April 29, 2022, Williams said, to formally let FDLCC know about the concerns.
Watch the press conference in full below:
On July 15, 2022, TxDOT suspended work on the bridge after FDLLC's "lack of responsiveness" to TxDOT's concerns.
"Despite numerous meetings between TxDOT, the Flatiron/Dragados team, and IBT, Flatiron Dragados has refused to acknowledge the safety issues that have been identified or to take any steps to correct them," Williams said.
"This is unacceptable and places TxDOT in the unfortunate position today of having to provide Flatiron/Dragados with a notice of default."
FDLCC has 15 days to "definitively address the safety issues that have been raised," and if they don't, TxDOT said they will replace them as the contractor.
"Should we have to move forward with terminating this contractor, TxDOT will expedite the process to move ahead safely and deliberately by securing new contractors to complete the work on the Harbor Bridge, specifically to address the safety issues that have been established and finish the job," Williams said.
This all may, again, push back the estimated completion date for the new Harbor Bridge, Williams said.
"We are going to see this project through to completion," Williams said in the press conference.
TxDOT held the meeting Tuesday to "reinforce that safety remains our highest priority as we work to assure the new Harbor Bridge is properly and safely constructed," Williams said.