- Flatiron-Dragados LLC, the design-build developer for the $800 million U.S. 181 Harbor Bridge replacement in Corpus Christi, Texas, has hired the joint venture of Arup and Carlos Fernandez Casado S.L. (CFC) to handle the design work for the main spans of the project, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
- Arup-CFC will be responsible for reviewing, recertifying and completing the design for the cable-supported, "signature" part of the bridge that will cross the Corpus Christi ship channel, according to TxDOT. The agency said that safety is its highest priority and that Arup and CFC have, between them, more than 70 years of design and engineering experience and have been involved in more than 50 cable-stay bridge projects.
- Arup-CFC replaces former team member FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc., which was removed from the project earlier this year at the TxDOT's urging. The agency temporarily suspended construction on the bridge last November after a National Transportation Safety Board report found FIGG's design the probable cause of the deadly March 2018 pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University in Miami.
After the TxDOT announced in January its preference that Flatiron-Dragados LLC terminate FIGG, the engineering firm told Construction Dive that it was "shocked" that the agency had related its design role on the Harbor Bridge to the accident at FIU. The TxDOT maintained that the NTSB's findings about the cause of the accident and FIGG's role warranted the engineering firm's replacement.
In its October 2019 report, the NTSB determined that FIGG made load and capacity calculation errors in its design of the pedestrian bridge and that the consulting engineer that FIGG hired, Louis Berger Group, did not catch those errors.
The NTSB also faulted general contractor Magnum Construction Management (MCM), known as Munilla Construction Management at the time of the collapse, as well as other consultants and contractors on the project for not taking action to protect the public's safety when it was apparent that cracks had developed and were growing in the bridge's structure. Specifically, the NTSB said that traffic should have not been allowed to continue under the bridge during retensioning operations and that the bridge structure should have been shored up.
All but one of the six deaths that day was a result of the bridge collapsing onto cars waiting at a traffic light below.
FIGG hired its own engineers to review the collapse and maintains that the cause of the accident was the construction field error of failing to build the construction joint at the point of failure according to Florida DOT specifications.
Since the NTSB released the report, FIGG has also been on the receiving end of additional scrutiny from the Harris County Toll Road Authority in regard to the design for the $1 billion Ship Channel Bridge in Houston. The authority hired an independent consultant to conduct a review of FIGG's design and that company, COWI North America Ltd., found 21 areas of "significant concern."
FIGG said it welcomed the review and would work with the authority and the rest of the bridge team to “provide a final bridge that is a point of function and pride within the community."
In addition, the Connecticut Department of Transportation took heat last summer from state lawmakers who expressed concern about its decision to use FIGG for a $40 million bridge services contract. The agency stood by its decision and said it had "absolute confidence" in FIGG.