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More troubles for new Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge

New Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge.jfif
Flatiron
/
Artist rendering of new Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge rising over Whataburger Field, home of the Corpus Christi Hooks minor league baseball team

Local leaders in Corpus Christi on Wednesday sought to reassure the public over the safety of the new harbor bridge project, which promises to be the tallest structure in deep South Texas.

It's 500 feet pylons are just 250 feet shorter than San Antonio's Tower of the Americas.

The leader's comments come after the developer was put on notice by the Texas Department of Transportation this week to correct safety flaws. For now, work has been halted.

Developer Flatiron/Dragados has 15 days to present a plan to correct problems in the foundation, towers, and superstructure found by an independent consultant hired by Tx-DoT.

Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo called on Tx-DoT and the developer to be more transparent in the future about the $1 billion project.

"The people have the right to complete information about the biggest project that impacts the safety of residents and the local economy," Guajardo said.

The troubled bridge has been under construction since 2016. Work was previously delayed when Tx-DoT removed the previous bridge designer from the job. It's expected to take at least two more years to finish.

Local State Representative Todd Hunter was among those to join the mayor and County Judge Barbara Canales and other officials for a city hall news conference on Wednesday.

He expressed the frustration many residents have had over construction delays.

"Let's just call this like it is. We keep calling it the harbor bridge. It's not a bridge. It's a big gap," Hunter said.

The state lawmaker also called on Tx-DoT and the developer to be more transparent about bridge issues in the future. He said there should not be "a maze" for the public and media to go through to get information.

With hurricane season coming into its peak on the Texas coast, local officials assured residents the existing harbor bridge built in the 1950s is safe to cross. Officials with Tx-DoT said the bridge is routinely inspected and is structurally sound. It carries around 50,000 vehicles each day over the entrance of the harbor.

Hunter said some of his constituents would be afraid to drive over either bridge.

Construction on the new bridge is expected to take at least two more years. Tx-DoT said local taxpayers will not pay for any project overruns.

Tx-DoT officials did pledge to communicate more openly about project issues in the future. Mayor Guajardo promised at least monthly public meetings on the project for all residents to see and hear.

She also said the safety of the community comes first when it comes to both bridges.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian