- A crane being used to work on the $1 billion new Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, Texas, caught fire last weekend, showering debris, injuring two people at the nearby Whataburger Field and sending one to the hospital, KRIS 6 News reported. Two workers were on the crane at the time of the fire, but they escaped uninjured.
- It is not yet confirmed how the 450-foot tower crane ignited on the evening of April 22. However, Assistant Fire Chief Doug Matthijetz told the Caller-Times that the crane's drum brake overheated and sparked a fire through the lubrication grease. A crane operator tried to extinguish the flames but had to evacuate.
- The incident occurred during a packed Corpus Christi Hooks game, frightening fans. The contractors — a joint venture with Boulder, Colorado-based Flatiron and Spanish firm Dragados — are investigating the incident, as is the City of Corpus Christi, Texas DOT and other agencies, according to a city press release.
The Harbor Bridge project has seen numerous incidents and delays, and work was shut down over safety concerns last summer.
In early August 2022, 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. It cited a 2020 independent review that had identified a series of design and construction flaws, as well as the contractors’ “lack of responsiveness” to its concerns first raised in April.
Texas DOT paused work on the Harbor Bridge in July 2022, and in mid-August, it issued a notice of default and threatened to fire the contractors if several key elements were not reworked. By the end of the month, Flatiron/Dragados committed “to do whatever needs to be done” to address the agency’s concerns and complete the project.
Texas DOT and Flatiron/Dragados reached an agreement on April 6 on how to resolve the last of the five design disputes.
This is also not the first incident with a crane. In 2019, a crawler crane collapsed on the jobsite near Interstate 37 and Brownlee, but did not injure anyone.
The project involves building the bridge structure and about 6.5 miles of roadway on U.S. 181, which spans the Corpus Christi Ship Channel off of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to being safer for users than the old Harbor Bridge, officials said the greater clearance on the new span will allow larger ships to pass through and enable the Port of Corpus Christi to compete with other Gulf Coast deep water ports.
The new span was initially scheduled for completion in 2020, but is now tentatively set to finish in 2025, Texas DOT said.