TxDOT claimed that the there are serious design flaws and potential safety issues with the major cable-stayed bridge.

The letter was sent on 15 July by Texas Department of Transportation deputy executive director-program delivery Brian R Barth to Keith Armstrong, project manager of the Flatiron/Dragados joint venture building the bridge.

It was written in response to a letter written by Flatiron/Dragados, LLC (FDLLC) in June regarding the installation of the delta frames for the bridge. The July letter from TxDOT notified the contractor of a suspension of portions of the work that had been due to start imminently.

“The ongoing erection of the New Harbor Bridge (NHB) superstructure, including the proposed delta frame installation, raises very serious and significant potential safety issues,” said the TxDOT letter. “As explained in the Notice of Nonconforming Work that TxDOT delivered to FDLLC on April 29, 2022, International Bridge Technologies (IBT) independently concluded that there are significant design flaws that raise serious concerns about the safety of the New Harbor Bridge. Although IBT presented numerous technical findings and observations that must be addressed, the five primary areas of concern are: (1) inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts, (2) deficiencies in footing caps that led IBT to report that the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions, (3) delta frame design defects, primarily related to the connections between the delta frames and the adjacent precast box units, (4) significant uplift at the intermediate piers, and (5) excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction.”

TxDOT continued: “In light of the additional load that will result from continued erection of the NHB superstructure, it is impossible to know precisely when the nonconforming design flaws will manifest themselves in the form of damage, excessive deflection, or brittle failure should construction continue to proceed with erection of the delta frames. To date, FDLLC has failed to adequately address the nonconforming design. Rather, FDLLC and its Engineer of Record, Arup-CFC (the EOR), continue to deny any problems with the design despite ample evidence to the contrary. 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 Arup-CFC team had taken over the design in 2020 after TxDOT ordered the removal of the original design firm (link opens in new tab).

New Harbor Bridge

Last month's letter added: “In TxDOT’s good faith judgment, the conditions created by FDLLC will be exacerbated by the continued erection of the NHB superstructure and present a danger to persons or property. Furthermore, the conditions described in this letter result from acts and omissions of FDLLC that constitute Developer Defaults, including, without limitation, FDLLC ’s failure to perform the Work in accordance with the Contract Documents and its failure to date to correct, remove, and replace the Nonconforming Work identified in the Notice of Nonconforming Work. Not only is FDLLC not diligently taking all necessary steps to rectify or deal with such danger, as required by Sec. 16.2.3 of the CDA [comprehensive developer agreement], as noted above, FDLLC and its EOR continue to assert that the Work complies with the Contract Documents.”

FDLLC has been approached for its response.