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Crane Collapses at TX Harbor Bridge

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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In the middle of December, a 110-ton crawler crane collapsed while lifting a connector beam at the Harbor Bridge replacement project site near Interstate 37 and Brownlee Bouelvard.

No injuries have been reported, while a cause for the incident is currently being investigated by local officials.

About the Project

Beginning in 2015, joint venture Flatiron/Dragados LLC was chosen by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for the design-build contract for the new Harbor Bridge, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The new bridge is slated to carry U.S. Route 181 across the Corpus Christi Ship Channel off Corpus Christi Bay, replacing the current Harbor Bridge, a through arch bridge that was built in 1959. Once completed, the bridge will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in the United States.

Additionally, the main tower will be 538 feet tall, which the project team says will make it the tallest structure in South Texas. It will clear the water by 205 feet, an increase of 67 feet over the current bridge’s clearance, which will allow larger ships to pass into the Port of Corpus Christi.

According to Flatiron/Dragados’ plans, the bridge will be constructed with twin precast box girders with precast delta frames, creating maximum strength in extreme wind. Stays will be covered with white casings to provide a backdrop for a nighttime lighting display.

The approaches, according to the designers, will be constructed with long spans in order to reduce the number of piers necessary by 25%. Concrete piers will be “slender,” according to the plans, in order to reduce the approaches’ footprint.

According to TxDOT at the time, the total cost of the project—including the construction of the new bridge and the demolition of the current one—would be approximately $802.9 million.

In March 2017, construction activities began on the project, and by February 2019, crews had completed concrete placement on the first lift of the south tower.

The following month, Flatiron/Dragados LLC announced that the project would likely not meet its April 2020 completion deadline. However, the first span had been put into place on the north side of the ship channel, marking a significant milestone. Company officials attributed the delay to weather conditions and permitting issues.

In November, TXDOT declared the suspension of design work for the Harbor Bridge project, a move made after reports indicated that FIGG Bridge Group had been removed from the project. According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the announcement came several weeks after the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings related to the FIU bridge collapse.

Due to this issues and previous delays, the project’s original completion date slated for 2021, was pushed back to early 2023, increasing the project’s total to $930 million.

What Happened Now

According to Flatiron/Dragados LLC spokesperson Lynn Allison, around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 16, a crawler crane collapsed on the construction site of the Harbor Bridge replacement project. No injuries were reported, however, a segment of Brownlee Boulevard had to be closed between Leopard and Winnebago Streets.

That same evening, another crane was brought in to remove the damaged crawler crane.

Investigators are currently working with project contractors, supervisors and subcontractors in order to determine what caused the incident. Allison adds that where the crane collapsed is only a small portion of the Harbor Bridge project and will not impact the overall schedule.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Cranes; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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