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New Harbor Bridge at risk of 'collapse' under current design, TxDOT says

TxDOT released the contents of a letter it sent bridge developer Flatiron Dragados on July 15. TxDOT said the developer was not taking steps to fix its design error.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The new Harbor Bridge has design flaws so significant that the Texas Department of Transportation said "the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions" should developer Flatiron Dragados LLC (FDLLC) finish the bridge without making design changes.

TxDOT on Thursday released the contents of a letter it sent to FDLLC on July 15, the same day it ordered construction crews to stop all work on the main span of the bridge. That's the portion over the water.

TIMELINE: The Harbor Bridge Project's history of progress, concerns and delays

TxDOT said it has "concluded there is or will be an emergency or danger to persons or property related to the design deficiencies."

"We cannot and will not compromise on safety," TxDOT said in a prepared statement to the media on Thursday. "We can assure the public that we are prepared to take the steps necessary to complete this project in the safest and most efficient manner possible."

3NEWS has asked to speak to TxDOT about why so much of the bridge was built with design errors still in place, when it realized there was a problem, and whether it believes portions of the bridge that have already been built will have to come down.

Developer FDLLC has not commented at all since TxDOT halted construction nearly three weeks ago.

Lawmakers say these are serious concerns TxDOT has raised and it and FDLLC need to be very open about what got us here.

"The Harbor Bridge needs full transparency," Rep. Todd Hunter said Thursday. "We don't need to hide the information. Let's get it out now. Everybody has a right to know what's going on."

North Beach resident Britt Murray said that not seeing any positive outcome from the project is frustrating in the least. 

They're running us ragged. My taxes have gone up every year for three years, almost four I think since this thing started," Murray said. "What have I got to show for it? A bunch of dirt, something that don't work, worse drainage than before. It's kind of like getting kicked in the groin and then having to pay for that, so I'm paying someone to do that."

TxDOT highlights 5 major areas of concern

In its letter to FDLCC, TxDOT said the firm International Bridge Technologies (IBT) confirmed in an independent review "significant design flaws that raise serious concerns about the safety of the New Harbor Bridge."

IBT had five primary areas of concern:

  1. Inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts
  2. Deficiencies in footing caps that led IBT to report that the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions
  3. Delta frame design defects, primarily related to the connections between the delta frames and the adjacent precast box units
  4. Significant uplift at the intermediate piers
  5. Excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction

Read the document in full below:

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