- Texas DOT has settled all disputes and damage claims with the Flatiron/Dragados joint venture building the $1.2 billion Harbor Bridge project in Corpus Christi, Texas, the agency announced on Oct. 12. The $400 million settlement will be paid through unallocated state highway funds, and Texas DOT will remove its notice of default and close claims dating back to as early as 2016.
- In August 2022, the agency issued the notice of default due to five key design issues and forced construction work to shut down until the contractor addressed them. The costs associated with the claims will cover claimed damages but are unrelated to the design concerns, according to Texas DOT.
- The settlement payments will be made in installments, including performance-based milestone payments that are based on the developer completing critical phases of work, Texas DOT said in its release. One milestone is to open the new bridge by spring 2025.
The new cable-stayed Harbor Bridge, started in 2016, was originally estimated to cost $803 million and open in 2020. However, there have since been numerous delays as well as disagreements over costs related to permitting, right-of-way acquisition, the COVID-19 pandemic and replacement of the engineer of record. Plus, in April a project crane caught fire and showered debris on the ground below, injuring two people at the nearby Whataburger Field.
The biggest issues came last summer, when Texas DOT warned that the project had design flaws so significant that “the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions” if it were finished per the current design, citing a 2020 independent review. Texas DOT paused work in July 2022, and in mid-August, issued a notice of default and threatened to fire the contractors if several key elements were not reworked.
Boulder, Colorado-based Flatiron and Madrid-headquartered Dragados committed “to do whatever needs to be done” to address the agency’s concerns and complete the project. The contractor will continue to honor its previous commitment to absorb all expenditures related to mitigation of those design concerns, according to the release, and local entities will not incur any additional costs.
“Legal contract disputes for a complex project of this magnitude can be costly and drawn out. This settlement eliminates years of litigation and clears the path for work to continue to progress safely and uninterrupted on the new bridge,” said Texas DOT Corpus Christi District Engineer Valente Olivarez Jr. in the release.
The existing Harbor Bridge will be demolished in spring 2026 after the new span is complete, according to Texas DOT.