CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The developer of the new Harbor Bridge says the Texas Department of Transportation is to blame for the half-finished bridge and the current impasse on the bridge's design.
TxDOT is expected to fire developer Flatiron/Dragados LLC at the end of the month.
In a letter to TxDOT dated Aug. 4 that TxDOT released Tuesday, Flatiron/Dragados LLC said it disagrees with the independent report from International Bridge Technologies that the bridge's design is defective. But it said TxDOT sat on that report for more than 18 months before halting work.
"If TxDOT was concerned by IBT's initial report, it should have raised those concerns to FDLLC and Arup-CFC back in early 2021," FDLLC Vice President and Project Manager Keith Armstrong wrote in the letter. "Inexplicably, TxDOT chose not to do so."
In a follow-up letter on Aug. 10, TxDOT said that's not true. It said the January 2021 IBT report was based on work from FDLLC's previous designer FIGG Bridge Engineers. TxDOT asked FDLLC to fire FIGG after a pedestrian bridge FIGG designed collapsed at Florida International University, killing six people.
FDLLC says in June 2021, TxDOT signed off on FDLLC's new bridge design from the design firm Arup-CFC.
"TxDOT allowed Arup-CFC to continue to design and FDLLC to continue construction of the foundations, footings, tower legs, and the precast segments," Armstrong said.
TxDOT calls FDLLC's stance on its design 'disturbing'
TxDOT said IBT did not complete its new independent assessment of Arup-CFC's designs until April 2022 and that FDLLC did nothing to address those concerns.
"Unfortunately, as TxDOT came to learn, the new design by Arup-CFC did not address TxDOT’s concerns, yet FDLLC nevertheless chose to proceed with construction," Corpus Christi District Project Manager Joseph Briones said in the Aug. 10 letter.
"FDLLC’s various statements are contradictory, inconsistent, and are an effort to avoid the real issues of the Nonconforming Work."
Briones added that "FDLLC's continued refusal to acknowledge the serious issues which have been identified is disturbing."
FDLLC packing up, reassigning crews
Despite having 15 days to satisfy TxDOT's requirements of an updated bridge design, FDLLC said it's stopping all work and moving crews away from the project.
"Based on TxDOT’s directive, FDLLC is demobilizing all work associated with the Cable-Stayed Bridge. It is reassigning crews, reallocating resources, and suspending all work on the Cable-Stayed Bridge."