Home News Some residents now wary of Harbor Bridge construction

Some residents now wary of Harbor Bridge construction

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Image courtesy of paintsquare.com/PAINTSQUARENEWS Construction of the new Harbor Bridge is expected to be completed by 2020.

ILLI-ANNA MARTINEZ
INTERIM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

After the March 15 bridge collapse in Miami, Florida, it has been discovered the same engineering firm in charge of the pedestrian bridge is also the lead engineering firm for the replacement Harbor Bridge project in
Corpus Christi.

According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the Figg Bridge Group was the engineering firm that created the design of the Florida bridge that unexpectedly collapsed, killing six people and injuring nine more. The cause of the bridge’s collapse is still unknown, and the firm has already been hit with lawsuits. In response to the collapse, Figg released a statement on March 19, claiming their firm has never experienced such a collapse and that their bridges have “proven to be incredibly durable.”  Junior engineering major Jervis Richards said he was skeptical about
the collapse.

“I think it was human error,” Richards said. “I’ve heard it was the lack of support that was not put in by the contractor. I haven’t looked into it myself, but my first assumption was a lack of engineering and stress testing of the bridge before it was put into place.”

According to Time, an engineer left a voicemail two days before the bridge collapse to inform the Florida Department of Transportation about some cracks that had been found at one end of the concrete span. Unfortunately, the voicemail wasn’t received in time. In the voicemail, the engineer said the cracks were nothing to be concerned about. Richards, speaking from an engineer perspective, disagreed.

“I think it’s worth it to look in to all things that come up in a project, whether it’s insignificant or not,” Richards said. “I think an important detail like that wouldn’t just be “missed.””

According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the replacement Harbor Bridge is intended to be a new cable-span bridge nearly 540 feet tall at its highest point and is scheduled for completion in 2020, officials said. After all the news coverage and tragedy Florida faced with their bridge collapsing, Corpus Christi residents are concerned that the same tragedy will happen to the Harbor Bridge.

“I was pretty concerned about the process in which they will build the [Harbor] bridge,” Richards said. “Like, would they use the same method as the walk way or would they better plan for something that massive? This bridge is basically Corpus Christi’s pride and joy.”

Richards, who is originally from Houston, said he spoke with Corpus Christi residents at his bible study and said they had many concerns about the bridge.

“A lot of people want to know all the details in Florida about the bridge failure,” Richards said. “Some people are a little fearful, especially with a larger and more complex structure.”

However, other people, like senior chemistry major Felipe Martinez, say they are not too worried about the Harbor Bridge meeting the same fate.

Martinez said he was more worried about the current bridge because it was supposed to be retired years ago.

“It’s actually why they do so much work on it,” Martinez said. “It’s been standing for 50 years. That much time being corroded by salt water is never a good thing.”

When asked if he felt comfortable with Figg working on the new Harbor Bridge, Martinez said he had confidence in the engineering firm.

“I think that the engineering firm has built dozens of bridges over the last 40 years, and this is the first one that has fallen that they built,” Martinez said. “We don’t know if it was negligence or faulty materials, or what it was. I think people who are freaking out over it are falling for sensationalism.”

Richards said he felt the opposite.

“Personally, I would explore other options,” Richards said. “If the failure analysis of the bridge comes back with any engineering errors, it doesn’t help the company’s reliability of their work. The Harbor Bridge is a big deal for the city of Corpus Christi, and only the best company should work on
the job.”

According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, Flatiron Dragados LLC, the firm overseeing construction of the Harbor Bridge replacement project, declined to comment on what Figg Bridge Group’s duties were on the ongoing project in Corpus Christi.

“The Harbor Bridge Project is a different project and is not related to the project in Florida,” said the statement attributed to Flatiron Dragados LLC project management. “Therefore, we have
no comment.”

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