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TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere

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Estimate   $39,234,367.50   % Over/Under   Company
Bidder 1   $41,231,130.96   +5.09%   AUSTIN BRIDGE & ROAD SERVICES, LP
Bidder 2   $44,215,649.47   +12.70%   MCCARTHY BUILDING COMPANIES, INC.
Bidder 3   $45,994,268.41   +17.23%   JENSEN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY OF TEXAS
Bidder 4   $46,344,034.91   +18.12%   ZACHRY CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION
Bidder 5   $49,189,185.82   +25.37%   JAY-REESE CONTRACTORS, INC.
Bidder 6   $51,212,088.62   +30.53%   FLATIRON CONSTRUCTORS, INC.
Bidder 7   $57,531,360.92   +46.64%   KIEWIT INFRASTRUCTURE SOUTH CO.
Bidder 8   $57,990,944.99   +47.81%   WEBBER, LLC
Bidder 9   $59,389,316.25   +51.37%   WILLIAMS BROTHERS CONSTRUCTION CO., INC.

This project replaces the existing floating "swing" bridge at the end of FM 457 which crosses the intracoastal waterway. The new bridge will connect to the narrow strip of land between the waterway and the Gulf of Mexico. Due to rapid erosion, the strip of land has become very narrow and has almost vanished entirely nearby, with Gulf of Mexico nearly breaching into the intracoastal waterway (see image below). I recall news reports which said there were originally more streets on the strip of land, but they are now in the Gulf. A revetment was built in the 1990s to save the ICWW. You can see it in some places on Google maps, but along most of its length it appears to be under the dunes or under the beach.

The end of the bridge will be about 150-200 feet from the water. Obviously the corkscrew (or a sharp turn) was needed on the Gulf side, but on the mainland side the design could have used a straight approach. I'm thinking that building both sides identically may be cheaper, or the corkscrew on the mainland side is to ensure vehicles move slowly.

This was probably a difficult decision for TxDOT. A major hurricane could wipe out most or all the buidings on the thin strip, and probably destroy the road, just like hurricane Ike destroyed the road at Surfside in 2008

On the other hand, the swing bridge is surely expensive to operate and may be nearing the end of its life. And it may be decades before the next destructive hurricane strikes.

This Google maps screenshot shows the location, and the thin strip of land on the Gulf side,-95.6167626,678m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

Here is the existing swing bridge

Four miles east of the bridge, the revetment is barely keeping the intracoastal waterway intact,-95.5565375,679m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

I created a gif showing the retreat of the coastline from 1943 to 2017:

Thanks, Obama!

Sea level is rising, and that is having a significant effect on coastal areas.

A long stretch of TX 87 has been wiped out by the beach moving inland.

The same thing is happening to SR A1A in Flagler Beach, FL, only they decided to repair it, but it won't last.

In Louisiana, they are elevating SR 1 to Port Forchon. The original highway is only a foot or two above the water line.

Their reasons for not building another swing-span (here).

The first two are silly reasons that are true for all open-able bridges, including the bridge they're the current bridge posing problems? Street view doesn't show many cars.

The third reason is the only real reason, as far as I'm concerned. But even that's a stretch. Surely there are other types of bridges that could be considered here. Even unopen-able bridges have maintenance costs.

If I was a resident of the area, I'm not sure I'd be too keen on a giant corkscrew highway going up, especially if the land is being threatened by erosion.

Honestly, It'd be smarter to just condemn the entire stretch of land, and demolish the bridge. Build a new dock with ferry access if access by vehicle is completely necessary.


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