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The 15 days are up. Bridge builder in talks with TxDOT

Flatiron-Dragdos seems to be in-line with TxDOT’s concerns, more meetings to follow
Posted at 3:56 PM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 23:27:16-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — New Harbor Bridge project contractor Flatiron-Dragados, LLC,'s tone has changed and is aligned with Texas Department of Transportation( TxDOT), according to TxDOT Corpus Christi District Engineer Valente Olivarez Jr.

Olivarez updated The Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on Thursday about the bridge's status, saying TxDOT is feeling more confident about the entities' relationship.

TxDOT also released a statement Thursday in which it also updated news outlets on the project's progress, using excerpts from a letter written by Flatiron Dragados.

“FDLLC will, at its expense, provide designs and install the items of work that resolves the concerns raised by IBT in their reports," the statement reads on FDLLC's behalf. "FDLLC is ready, willing and able to act upon IBT’s conclusions and do what is necessary to satisfy TxDOT that our revised designs in fact accomplish that result.”

TxDOT had served Flatiron-Dragados with a notice of default Aug. 16 after sending a letter addressing numerous safety concerns. Those concerns stem from an independent review of the project by International Bridge Technologies (IBT).

Among the members of the the Transportation Policy Committee are Mayor Paulette Guajardo and County Judge Barbara Canales. Guajardo was glad to hear things are getting back on track.

“We want to make certain that, number one, it’s safety first," said Guajardo. "Number two, overages do not extend out to any of the entities, hence the taxpayers, which we’ve been told today, in writing, that they’re not.”

In documents released by TxDOT on Thursday, the contractor acknowledge they have full responsibility for a safe design. They have also agreed to pay for any future design and construction costs to fix the areas of concern.

“I also heard terms that we hadn’t heard from TxDOT before, like for example, “a new direction has been established” and ACS, the parent company is currently involved,” Canales said.

Olivarez said that Flatiron-Dragados presented TxDOT with ideas to resolve its safety concerns, Olivarez says talks have begun between TxDOT's bridge division, the independent reviewer and engineer on the project, Arup-CFC to determine the viability of these ideas. Nothing is set in stone and everything is on the table, including a modified design.

“We want to make sure that we review the concept and then get down to the technical aspects of it," said Olivarez. "The current proposal is to leave what’s in place and mitigate by expanding the footprint of the foundation, which includes additional drill shafts."

This does not resolve all the issues, Olivarez said. The notice of default has not been lifted and will not be lifted until TxDOT has something in writing. In fact, TxDOT continues to plan for all scenarios in case things take a turn and a new contractor is needed.

“We are not sitting and waiting to see if Flatiron-Dragados is going to cure these nonconforming items. We are in the background working on preparing other contracts as far as design to prepare for construction if needed,” said Olivarez.

In the documents, Flatiron-Dragdos makes it clear they are committed to staying on the project.

If they meet TxDOT's satisfaction, a new construction timeline will be established.