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TxDOT fights KRIS 6 News request for documents relating to the safety of the new Harbor Bridge's construction

Harbor Bridge 08041.jpg
Harbor Bridge.jpg
Posted at 1:33 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 18:42:26-04

UPDATE (1:10 p.m.): TxDOT has moved to block a KRIS 6 News request to turn over documents pertaining to the safety and construction of the new Harbor Bridge.

Because the bridge is funded by taxpayer money, records related to its construction are considered public information. KRIS 6 News has requested those records, but TxDOT has asked the Texas Attorney General's Office for permission to withhold the documents.

TxDOT is legally allowed to use such exceptions.

“If public safety is involved, then transparency is imperative," State Rep. Todd Hunter told KRIS 6 News anchor Pat Simon in a text message Wednesday. "(The) Public needs knowledge of all information relating to public safety and the collapse issue.”

The attorney general's office has 45 days to decide whether to grant TxDOT's request.

We'll let you know when they do.


A TxDOT release states the new Harbor Bridge's final design "of the cable-stayed design is highly problematic," and that if it were allowed to finish, "would create safety concerns."

The release states that the flaws would affect foundations, load and weight capacity, structure, and stability of the bridge.

Work was halted on the bridge July 15.

"The last action TxDOT has wanted to take is to delay this project any further, But again, we cannot and will not compromise on safety," TxDOT states in the release.

In a separate letter to Flatiron/Dragados Project Manager Keith Armstrong, TxDOT specifically points to five "primary areas of concern:"

  • inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts
  • deficient pile caps that could lead the bridge to collapse under certain load conditions
  • design defects in the delta frame — framing that supports the bridge from underneath — primarily related to the connections
  • significant uplift at the intermediate piers, and;
  • excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction.

Flatiron/Dragados is managing the bridge's construction.

The letter to Armstrong also accuses Flatiron/Dragados of flagrantly failing to live up to its end of the contract by not "adequately (addressing) the nonconforming design," stating that it and the engineer of record Arup-CFC "continue to deny any problems with the design despite ample evidence to the contrary."

District 32 State Rep. Todd Hunter, is upset over the lack of transparency throughout this situation.

“If we’re talking about a bridge collapse, let's find a timeline to fix it," he said. "Let's find out what happened. Let's now make sure the public feels safe because that bridge now, everybody’s going to watch it.”

Hunter assured that any overrun costs that are incurred from the stoppage in work, local governments will not be responsible.

“The details need to all be put out there," he said. "It’s taxpayer public money. They deserve it. And so, transparency and the push for information is the key right now.”

Hunter said he will demand an update from TxDOT every two weeks. He then will relay what he learns to the public.

The release from TxDOT states that the flaws were found after consulting with independent consultants to review the bridge's design. The letter references IBT, also known as International Bridge Technologies, a bridge design and engineering service.

"Notwithstanding the continuing denials from FDLLC and its EOR, TxDOT does not believe it is responsible or safe to proceed with the erection of the NHB superstructure (including, but not limited to the delta frame installation) because that work exacerbates four of the five major issues raised by IBT," the letter states.

We reached out to TxDOT for an interview, but declined the request.

Specialty producer Rachel Denny Clow contributed to this story. Check back with KRIS 6 News for updates.