Construction work is now restarting on the Houston Ship Canal Bridge in Texas. The bridge has been the subject of considerable controversy after construction was halted on the project over safety concerns.
The approval has been given for the work to restart, however the project is now likely to cost up to US$300 more than what had been planned originally. Construction on the bridge was halted due to concerns over the safety of the design. Changing the design means removing some of the base structures that have already been erected, accounting for around $50 million of the extra $300 million now needed to build the bridge, an important project for Texas.
The replacement of the 40 year old road bridge with a new bridge forms part of a wider project to widen the tolled route on either side of the Houston Ship Canal. The work is now expected to cost in excess of $1.3 billion.
Harris County Commissioners Court has approved the plans for the new and more conventional design for the bridge. The work will take an additional three years to complete now that approval for the revised design has been given.
The construction team will have to remove the base structures for the supports that would have held up the bridge. The original design called for the use of precast concrete in segments, however the bridge will now be built of steel instead.
The new design will have 157m high towers and will have two separate spans, each carrying four lanes of traffic. The first span is expected to open in 2025, with the second span opening in 2027. Once the second span is complete, demolition work will be carried out on the existing bridge, which dates from the early 1980s. The new bridge will improve journey times for drivers in the Houston area.
A complex legal case now surrounds the firm that designed the original structure.