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TxDOT and Flatiron/Dragados reach formal agreement over new Harbor Bridge

Posted at 11:02 AM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 23:52:57-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Flatiron/Dragados, LLC. (FDLLC) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a letter of agreement Thursday that outlines FDLLC's responsibilities as it relates to safety concerns at the new Harbor Bridge.

As KRIS 6 News has previously reported, TxDOT issued FDLLC a notice of default on August 16, citing several major safety concerns.

The news released on Thursday, which was announced during a House Transportation Committee at the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center, does not remove that notice of default.

According to the letter published by TxDOT, that default will remain in place until FDLLC completes safety fixes, at their cost, or until TxDOT decides to remove the default.

Mark Williams, executive director of TxDOT, told KRIS 6 News that the agency is still working with the developer on the proposed fixes to the five major safety issues delineated by a third-party engineering firm.

He said while bridge completion is still anticipated in 2025, there is no firm date at this time, and there won't be until a plan for fixes is completed.

"As we’re able to accept the design changes, then we’ll be able to put forward a timeframe for completing this bridge," Williams said. "The region, everyone, is anxious to know when, including ourselves. I understand the frustration when we aren’t able to give a clear answer to that. But I want to assure everyone that we’re working on that as hard as possible to get to those results."

The agreement between the entities also pauses dispute proceedings and puts in writing that the groups will work toward formal agreements.

Documents obtained by 6 Investigates show that over the last two years, 13 claims have escalated to the Dispute Board, the final step before formal litigation.

Williams said this is not standard practice and would require a change in how TxDOT develops future contracts.

"The relationship with Flatiron/Dragados over the last few years has been a difficult one," Williams added. "It is not the type of relationship we want to have with people that we task with working with us to build the infrastructure we need."

"It’s an indication of the problems that have been persistent on this project. It’s an indication of some of the things that we expect to change going forward and changes that we’re going to build into contracts going forward to prevent this type of back-and-forth and level of disputes from occurring in the future," he added.

Recently, Williams said there has been a culture shift in that of FDLCC and of its parent company ACS, including making management and leadership changes.