Contract signed on Corpus Christi's Harbor Bridge

Texas has entered into a PPP agreement with a Flatiron/Dragados consortium to replace an aging bridge and make way for post-Panamax cargo ships.

After selecting a Flatiron/Dragados consortium as preferred bidder for the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge Replacement in April, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the consortium have signed a comprehensive $800 million contract, bringing a close to a months-long negotiation process. 

Flatiron/Dragados is a limited liability company led by Flatiron Constructors and Dragados USA which comprises 19 additional non-equity members, including Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras, a company acting through ACS Infrastructure Development.

The consortium's original bidding price was just over $847 million, but according to TxDOT representative Rickey Dailey, the executed contract amount was just under $803 million, with public funds set to cover the entire cost of the project and no plan to utilise user fees.

The public-private partnership (PPP; P3) project calls for demolition of the existing harbor bridge, built in the late 1950s, and construction of a new, cable-stayed bridge as well as portions of US Highway 181, I-37 and the Crosstown Expressway. 

With a main span of 1,655 feet, the bridge will feature the longest cable-stayed span of any bridge in North America once construction is complete. 

The new bridge will also provide 205 feet of vertical clearance, as compared to the 138-foot clearance of the old bridge, making room for post-Panamax ships to access the Port of Corpus Christi once the expanded Panama Canal locks enter into service.

The bridge replacement project was first conceived in the early 2000s, and after years of delays in the project due to environmental review and other pre-construction issues, an RFP was issued by TXDOT in October 2014.

While TxDOT originally estimated that the bridge replacement would cost $700 million, in May the department revised its estimate to $898 million. The final contracted project cost, Dailey said, does not include right of way and utilities amoung other unspecified expenditures.  

Dailey said that the department anticipates design and construction for the project to begin in early 2016 with substantial progress set for fall 2020.

Demolition of the old structure is set to occur shortly after substantial completion of the new project is reached.

A 2011 traffic study found that between 40,000 and 50,000 vehicles were utilising the existing harbor bridge. Dailey said average daily traffic (ADT) estimates suggest that as many as 81,000 vehicles will utilise the new bridge between 2020 and 2040.