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Houston: ship channel bridge project

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MaxConcrete:
HCTRA (Harris County Toll Road Authority) has included these items in recent agendas (highlights added by me)
http://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2015/2015-03-10ag.pdf
http://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2015/2015-04-14ag.pdf

"Recommendation for approval of a schematic for the Ship Channel Bridge Program to
add capacity to the Sam Houston Tollway East from south of SH-225 to IH-10 East
including replacement of the existing Houston Ship Channel bridge in Precinct 2, and
authorization to proceed with the final design phase."

"Figg Bridge Engineers, Inc., in the amount of $20.4 million for final design
services in support of improvements to the East Sam Houston Tollway between
IH-10 East and SH-225 in connection with the Ship Channel Bridge Program in
Precinct 2 (UPIN 140505R133)."

"Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation in the amount of $6.5 million for
program management and engineering services in support of the final design of
improvements to the East Sam Houston Tollway between IH-10 East and SH-
225 in connection with the Ship Channel Bridge Program in Precinct 2 (UPIN
140505R133)."


This was definitely a surprise to see that the existing bridge, opened in 1982, will be replaced. I have not heard any reports of structural issues. As a concrete box girder, it seems like a design which should be low in maintenance. The span was designed to be the first of two spans, but now it looks like it will be demolished and replaced with a single new span.

I can only speculate on the reason(s) for this.
Perhaps the incremental cost of making the new span wide enough for all lanes was low enough so it made sense to have one bridge.
Perhaps the existing bridge has maintenance issues.
Perhaps they want a longer span. (Taller span is unlikely because of the SH 146 bridge further east limits vessel height.)

This will almost surely be a cable-stayed design. I doubt the main span will be as long as the about-to-begin Corpus Christi bridge (which will be the U.S. record holder for cable stayed design).
 
 

codyg1985:
I don't see why a parallel span can't be built and have the two bridges be three lanes in each direction (so that both bridges have adequate shoulders). Or, do something like MdSHA does with the US 50/301 Bay Bridge and build the new bridge with three lanes plus a reversible lane on the new span. Seems like a waste to just replace it, though.

MaxConcrete:
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the bridge is estimated to cost $962 million.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Tolls-increasing-along-with-construction-6429458.php?t=cd498ce4fe&cmpid=email-premium

Harris County has been awarding tens of millions in engineering contracts recently, including about $3.5 million last week
http://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2015/2015-07-28ag.pdf

The HCTRA web site says the bridge will have eight lanes with full shoulders on both sides. Construction is expected to begin in 2017. With the Corpus Christi bridge and this bridge under construction at the same time later this decade, Texas will be the the main center of action for major bridge construction in the United States.
https://www.hctra.org/about_construction/sam-houston-tollway-widening-ship-channel-bridge

The main suspense for me is finding out how long and how high the span will be. I'm assuming it will be cable-stayed, but I have not seen any reports to confirm that assumption; it could be concrete box girder like the existing bridge. And if it is cable stayed, will it be long enough to exceed the length of the Corpus bridge and become the longest in the U.S.?
 
 

Rothman:

--- Quote from: MaxConcrete on August 06, 2015, 08:21:15 PM --- With the Corpus Christi bridge and this bridge under construction at the same time later this decade, Texas will be the the main center of action for major bridge construction in the United States.


--- End quote ---

Two words for you:  Tappan Zee.  Sorry, Texas, but you're in the dust. :D

MaxConcrete:
Some details and a rendering are finally trickling out about the bridge.



Main span:
Existing: 750 feet
New: 1320 feet

Vertical Clearance:
Existing: 175 feet
New: 175 feet

Lanes
Existing: 4 with no shoulders
New: 8 with full inner and outer shoulders.

This will not be a U.S. longest cable-stayed span. The current U.S. longest is reportedly the John James Audubon Bridge in Louisiana, reported at 1583 feet by Wikipedia (and a vertical clearance of 121 or 130 feet, depending on the info source). The New Corpus Christi (TX) bridge (which will not be tolled), with construction just underway, will have a main span of 1655 feet and a vertical clearance of 205 feet.

I like the design - I can't think of any other cable-stayed bridges with similar piers.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017. The existing bridge, opened in 1982, will be removed after a life of around 38 years.
 
Some more info from a public notice

--- Quote ---The existing fixed highway bridge is a concrete box girder design with a main span of 750 feet.
The proposed northbound and southbound bridges will be separate structures, and each will have
a fixed cable-stayed main span of 1,320 feet. The piers of the new bridge will be constructed on
land and there will be no obstructions in the waterway. The new southbound bridge will be
constructed first, within the existing 200-foot right-of-way (ROW), adjacent to the existing
bridge to the west. The new bridge will be temporarily fitted to handle two-way traffic so that
the existing bridge can be demolished. After the removal of the existing bridge, a second new
northbound bridge will be constructed to handle all northbound traffic. Removal of the old
bridge will be down to a depth deemed appropriate by the District Commander and the United
States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
--- End quote ---
 

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