NORTH CHANNEL – The GP/JC CIP group (Community-Industry-Partnership) met last Thursday evening by Zoom, to hear industry reports and an progress report from HCTRA (Harris County Toll Road Authority) on the construction of the new replacement bridge that carries Beltway 8 over the ship channel.
The presentation was made by John Tyler, HCTRA Deputy Director for Engineering. Using slides, he detailed the problems the bridge construction has faced, and the status of building the new design.
The original contract for the bridge was let in 2018 to a consortium of Traylor Brothers and Zachry Construction, two contractors with extensive experience in this type of highway bridge. The design engineer was FIGG Engineering. The original contract was for $962 million dollars, for the bridge and connecting roads from Highway 225 to Interstate 10. However, after one of FIGG’s bridges collapsed in Florida, an analysis of this design was ordered, and determined that it was flawed and unstable. Work was halted in August 2019 to allow a redesign.
A new foundation design was engineered by COWI engineers, and the new plans added $291 million dollars to the cost, including $50 to demolish work already in place. This mainly involved the piers at the base of the pylons, which were redesigned with new reinforcing. Tyler noted that construction of the new bridge is the largest single project in county history. He said that the cost of the bridge will be paid for by tolls, and no tax money or federal subsidy will be used to pay for it.