UPDATE: June 6, 2018: Construction is now underway on the Houston Ship Channel Toll Bridge, and Houston Public Media has reported that Kansas City-based architecture, civil engineering, consulting and construction management firm HNTB Corp. will be overseeing the work.
William Torres, HNTB deputy program manager, reportedly told Houston Public Media that the bridge will not only be aesthetically pleasing, particularly when illuminated at night, but that the cable-stayed design, which eliminates pylons, will also make it easier for crews to complete any necessary dredging operations.
Torres added that since the bridge does not go beyond the original span's footprint, there is no need to secure additional right of way.
- Construction could soon be underway on a $962 million design-bid-build replacement of Houston's existing Ship Channel Bridge, a project that is part of a widening of the Sam Houston Tollway (SHT), according to Roads & Bridges. The new bridge is expected to relieve congestion and will be able to handle an estimated 158,000 daily vehicle crossings that are projected by 2035.
- The cable-stayed bridge's main span will be 1,320 feet long and will feature 500-foot-tall pylons and four lanes in each direction. Officials said the bridge's cable system will require less maintenance because of its corrosion-resistant properties.
- The bridge is the first of three contracts for the SHT widening initiative. The Harris County Toll Road Authority is examining the bids to determine who will be awarded the project. Demolition and construction are expected to take more than six years, with completion tentatively scheduled for 2024.
As many of the nation's bridges continue to fall into disrepair or obsolescence, some local authorities are coming up with innovative ways to make the necessary bridge upgrades without creating additional commuter logjams.
Last month, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) installed a two-span, 45-foot-tall, 4-million-pound prefabricated railroad truss bridge along a portion of Interstate 235 in a matter of days. Crews built the bridge offsite, eliminating the traffic jams and road closures that typically occur when infrastructure of this magnitude is built onsite. The bridge is part of the $88 million "Off Broadway" highway improvement program, the largest project in ODOT history.
The accelerated bridge construction (ABC) techniques used on the Oklahoma bridge project are the same that Tennessee, Georgia and Massachusetts have used to speed up their own critical bridge replacement and repair projects, reduce the impact on traffic flow and improve safety.
ABC will likely have a place in any nationwide bridge initiative, like the Senate's proposed $75 billion Bridge Investment Act. The plan, which has garnered industry support, would fund a 10-year, competitive grant program that lawmakers hope would chip away at a $123 billion U.S. bridge repair backlog. In its latest report, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) found that there are more than 54,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country.