CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is defending a recent move it made that could further delay completion of the new Harbor Bridge.
The agency's executive director issued a news release explaining TxDOT's decision to remove FIGG Bridge Engineers from the main span of the project after reviewing investigations of a pedestrian bridge collapse in Florida in 2018.
"FIGG was the engineering design firm responsible for that project, with the same individual serving as the Engineer of Record (EOR) as for the New Harbor Bridge Replacement Project," TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said in the statement.
The press release went on to state that Flatiron/Dragados has begun the process of replacing the firm, but that the change could come with problems.
"While this vital step for additional review and verification could result in potential delays to the project with potential cost impacts, the value of safety and taking the time needed for this project is unquestionably the right course of action," Bass said.
State Rep. Todd Hunter thinks delays because of the design firm change are inevitable.
"Absolutely there's going to be a delay," Hunter said. "I don't think we should beat around the bush. There's going to be a delay. But what I want to know, and the other legislators, is how long is it going to be? Our region deserves to know."
Hunter, State Rep. Abel Herrero, and State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa put out a joint statement Thursday night.
"We have asked TxDOT leadership to provide us an update on the completion timeline and potential cost-impact as soon as possible," the statement read, in part.
Disappointment over potential new delays was felt at City Hall, as well.
"We've already been told initially that we were two years behind if everything was going as planned," mayor Joe McComb said. "So this could have a serious impact in terms of a (completion date)."
While the local and state leaders are eager to get the bridge completed, they said it's safety first. Some local residents agreed, saying they don't want to see another collapse like the one in Florida.
"(They need to take) precautions, for sure, so we don't have some catastrophe," Port Aransas resident Blakely Aycock said.
"Hopefully they can get their act together and get the thing built," lifelong Corpus Christi resident Jasonn Rodriguez said.