The Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, which was originally built in the 1950s, is showing its age. Now, a $900 million effort to replace the outdated bridge with a modern cable-stayed bridge is entering its second year. According to state transportation officials, the new bridge will be safer, sturdier and easier for drivers to navigate. It will also be taller to accommodate increased crude oil trade in the Port of Corpus Christi.
But before the bridge can be erected over the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, it must be constructed in pieces in nearby Robstown, Texas. Once complete, the bridge will incorporate a total of 2,600 discrete segments that will be bound together to form the new span. Lorette Williams, a spokesperson for chief contractor Flatiron-Dragados, compared the construction process to building with huge Lego pieces in a recent interview.
Each piece of the bridge begins as a trapezoid-shaped cage of metal rebar. Then, the pieces are pre-cast into moldings with a specialized concrete mix that’s designed to withstand environmental wear and heavy traffic volumes. Finally, the bridge sections must be transported 20 miles to Corpus Christi where crane operators carefully move them into place, one at a time. It’s a delicate process that requires an intense degree of concentration on the part of both crane operators and their teams on the ground. So far, crews have built an estimated 430 of the more than 2,000 segments that will form the new bridge.
Keep an eye on the new Harbor Bridge’s progress if you happen to be in the area—construction is expected to be complete in the spring of 2020.