Special Report: What’s on tap for Harbor Bridge project?

Posted at 4:22 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 17:22:21-04

Engineers with Flatiron-Dragados, the firm building the new Harbor Bridge say they’re excited for what the next three months will bring.

Some projects will take shape, while others will wrap up and give way to new projects.

By the time Labor Day Weekend rolls around, the area will look considerably different.   

“You’ll be seeing the superstructure really come to life here in the next three months,” said Project Engineer Nick Manfredini.

At the site of the new bridge support piers are popping up out of the ground.

“Now that we’re getting out of (the) ground it’s really good to see,” said Manfredini.  “Cars driving by, everyone’s aware of the progress we’re making.”

When finished, the piers will range between 30 and 200 feet tall.  Those piers will then be capped, and workers will start building a gantry crane to install the bridge.

Engineers say the gantry crane will be the largest crane most people in the Coastal Bend have ever seen.

“These spans are at 180-foot increments, and the full thing is going to span three of them,” said Manfredini.  “It’s got (the) main box that will span where the segments are going to be picked up and a truss structure that’s going to overhang each side.”

 A smaller scale crane is in use in Robstown, where the actual bridge segments are cast and cured.

“Right now we probably have about 275 segments that are already cast, but we’re going to need a total of 2,600 of those segments,” said Public Information Coordinator Lorette Williams.

 Workers in Robstown produce about 20 of the 100-ton segments every week; or about one per mold, per day.

Each segment is carefully inventoried, so the right section gets to where it belongs on the bridge.

“There’s actually a unique filing system on each of the segments in which they’re numbered,” said Williams.  “We know exactly, once we get to the site, which ones match up.”

Four more molds will soon be built.  When they’re finished, workers will be able to double their output.

Soon after, the smaller gantry crane will start loading segments onto trucks for their trip to the job site.

“Probably within the next three months or so is when we’ll actually see these segments being transported over to the North and South ends to begin the construction of the bridge,” said Williams.

When finished, the new Harbor Bridge will change Corpus Christi’s skyline as well as its highways.

That means plenty of road construction.

“People are going to see construction starting close to Buddy Lawrence and working coming in town on I-37,” said Traffic Engineering Manager Darrell Chambers.  “They’re going to see road construction in the North Beach area.”

One project nearing completion is the new Comanche Street Bridge.

“Three months from now, this bridge will be nearing completion,” said Chambers.  “All the beams will be set, all the deck panels, all the concrete will be poured.”

Once the new Comanche bridge is finished, crews will start tearing down the Lipan Street Bridge.  Construction will also begin on a new Leopard Street exit, turning parts of Crosstown Expressway into a multi-level thoroughfare.

“There will be 286 at one level, Leopard St. at one level, and the new connection ramps at another level,” said Chambers.  “It’s going to completely change the way this area looks.  This is a great time to be out here and see the project changing.  This is the true change everybody has been waiting for.”