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Author Topic: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere  (Read 6647 times)

MaxConcrete

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http://www.dot.state.tx.us/insdtdot/orgchart/cmd/cserve/bidtab/07123202.htm

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.
http://www.gulfcoaststarrealty.com/beach-property-for-sale-texas/

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 http://houstonfreeways.com/modern/2008-10-19_fm3005_destroyed.aspx.

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.


http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/bridge-large.jpg

This Google maps screenshot shows the location, and the thin strip of land on the Gulf side
https://www.google.com/maps/@28.7703862,-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
https://www.google.com/maps/@28.8010173,-95.5565375,679m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 08:19:28 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Chris

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 08:44:22 AM »

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

NE2

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2017, 10:57:33 AM »

Thanks, Obama!
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Brian556

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2017, 01:04:49 PM »

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.

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2017, 08:26:19 PM »

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 replacing...is 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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MaxConcrete

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2017, 11:02:45 PM »

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.

I counted 130 structures along the road. The construction cost of $41 million translates to around $317,000 per structure. There are also engineering and right-of-way costs, so its probably more like $330,000 per structure. I think most of the properties should be valued at well below $330,000.

A buyout of the entire strip of land would also require buying vacant land, and that could potentially make the cost too high. There are also a couple barge tie-ups, but they look very minimal and not expensive to purchase.

That's a nice graphic posted by Chris. It looks like erosion has been minimal in the last 20 years, probably due to the underground revetment which was built. TxDOT may be assuming that the Army Corps of Engineers will do whatever is necessary to keep the strip of land intact to keep the intracoastal waterway protected. so that's a compelling reason to proceed with the bridge.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 11:07:09 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Stephane Dumas

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2017, 09:14:33 AM »


That's a nice graphic posted by Chris. It looks like erosion has been minimal in the last 20 years, probably due to the underground revetment which was built. TxDOT may be assuming that the Army Corps of Engineers will do whatever is necessary to keep the strip of land intact to keep the intracoastal waterway protected. so that's a compelling reason to proceed with the bridge.

Another detail when we check the aerial photos is the width of the intracostal waterway compared from 1943 to 2017. I wonder if the widening of the waterway could had fragilized the soil of the shore and been more vulnerable to erosion?
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2017, 09:37:52 AM »

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



Kinda looks like the fate of Rt. 87 north of Houston is about to happen here as well...
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MaxConcrete

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2019, 07:27:48 PM »

It's two years after the contract award and there is much less progress than I expected. There was almost no progress in the first year, probably due to Hurricane Harvey, although I don't think there was much damage (if any) in this area. In the last year they've managed to build five piers in the center of the bridge, and some footings on the mainland side.





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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2019, 06:47:48 AM »

Given the nature of this strip of land, Iíd agree the ideal option would be to buy out all the properties and converse the land as a wildlife refuge or something of that sort until the land is gone naturally. This bridge is a waste of money in the long run, given how much the land has eroded since 1943, itís not going to last another 50-60 years and this bridge will only certainly speed that up.

I donít think Iíve ever seen such a wasteful highway project but itís already under construction, so who knows.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2020, 11:07:49 PM »

The contractor is now making progress and bridge beams now span the Intracoastal waterway. I was expecting the main span to be cast-in-place concrete like the bridges in Freeport and Surfside, but a connected beam design is used. This same approach was used in Dallas on the new Trinity River bridges for IH 30 and IH 35E. The beams are connected together and then the gaps are filled with concrete.

Most of the corkscrew approaches have bridge deck in place, except for the sections nearest to the ground, one of which is visible in the foreground of the photo.



Link to high res image
http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20200704_031-2400.JPG
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 10:23:03 AM by MaxConcrete »
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Chris

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2020, 12:40:10 PM »

That looks like a 300 ft span, maybe even slightly more. That's beyond the reach of a standard prefabricated beam (which I believe is possible up to 200-230 ft). Normally they'd construct a box girder / cantilevered span but that would've been more expensive than this.

jeffandnicole

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2020, 12:47:10 PM »

The contractor is now making progress...

The contractor was making progress all along.  While the actual bridge is generally the most exciting part, the construction doesn't get to that part until all the ground work is done. There's a tremendous amount of work the needs to be done underground first, and 2 years worth of it isn't unusual for such a tall bridge of this type.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2021, 07:27:31 PM »

I was checking on the status of the bridge, and discovered that it opened April 8. There is a nice video posted on youtube

I noticed that the spans on the curved approaches are very short - they look like they are less than 50 feet. I'm wondering if that's due to the curvature, or some other reason like hurricane resistance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbkEAWiflz8

« Last Edit: July 08, 2021, 07:44:48 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Bobby5280

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2021, 09:27:46 PM »

That drone video would have been better without all the fade to black and fade back in edits. Very pretentiously annoying. Every edit was a fade to black. That kind of edit is supposed to be done very sparingly, typically at the end of piece. Simple cuts and dissolves are less obtrusive. Then the video had no audio (no narration, music or natural audio) which made all the black fades even more distracting.

Interesting bridge though. Not as big as I thought it would be.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2021, 11:37:49 AM »

This bridge was replaced per the COE's request. The drawbridge on the intercoastal waterway was not really wide enough and it was getting older. It is hard to justify building a bridge that has very limited service where one has never been. On the other hand, this was replacing an existing bridge.  The only other option with removal of the old bridge would have been water only access.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2021, 12:31:40 PM »

I went to the local engineersí office in early June. They were telling me about this, which they claimed was recently opened. I think we passed through there as it was in construction. For those who donít know the city, itís called Sargent. Anyways, good for them on finishing this project.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2021, 04:00:05 PM »

Cool, didn't know this opened up recently. Might have to take a trip down to see it, as it isn't that far (and I'll be sure to take pictures when I do). I think I'm gonna call it the "Pretzel Bridge" due to its curved approaches. Any other bridges with that sort of setup?
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2021, 04:22:44 PM »

Cool, didn't know this opened up recently. Might have to take a trip down to see it, as it isn't that far (and I'll be sure to take pictures when I do). I think I'm gonna call it the "Pretzel Bridge" due to its curved approaches. Any other bridges with that sort of setup?

To me, the bridge, especially from an angle, looks a lot like the third C of Coca-Cola.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2021, 05:15:54 PM »

Cool, didn't know this opened up recently. Might have to take a trip down to see it, as it isn't that far (and I'll be sure to take pictures when I do). I think I'm gonna call it the "Pretzel Bridge" due to its curved approaches. Any other bridges with that sort of setup?

To me, the bridge, especially from an angle, looks a lot like the third C of Coca-Cola.
Actually, it looks to me like the voicemail logo.
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CoreySamson

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2021, 07:32:00 PM »

Today I took a little trip after work and checked out the Pretzel Bridge for the first time. It is really impressive from the ground, and a little larger than I thought it would be, as there is nothing nearby to block it from view. It's also very intimidating, as the grades of the loop approaches are very steep (the advisory speed for the bridge is 15 mph) and once you're on top all you can see is the Gulf of Mexico. That barrier island is really thin. There seemed to be no damage from Hurricane Nicholas on the bridge, though there was a little bit in town (and there was quite a bit of erosion on the barrier island). I took a picture of it, might see if I can get it uploaded.

On a side note, on the way there I noticed a new bridge is being built over the San Bernard River on FM 2611 which looks like it will be a lot wider than the existing old bridge (which is still the scariest bridge I've ever driven across), plus it looks like shoulders are being added on the Brazoria County section of FM 2611, as well.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2021, 06:33:56 PM »

On a side note, on the way there I noticed a new bridge is being built over the San Bernard River on FM 2611 which looks like it will be a lot wider than the existing old bridge (which is still the scariest bridge I've ever driven across), plus it looks like shoulders are being added on the Brazoria County section of FM 2611, as well.

This is scary?




THIS is (now was) scary.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2021, 04:24:51 PM »

On a side note, on the way there I noticed a new bridge is being built over the San Bernard River on FM 2611 which looks like it will be a lot wider than the existing old bridge (which is still the scariest bridge I've ever driven across), plus it looks like shoulders are being added on the Brazoria County section of FM 2611, as well.

This is scary?
[image snipped]

Well, to be fair, driving that FM 2611 bridge for the first time as a 15 year old driver with oncoming 60 mph traffic was really an unnerving experience. It's a lot narrower than it looks.
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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2021, 03:29:56 PM »

It finally dawned on me why the bridge is needed beyond the vacation properties.

The COE needs the bridge for access to the outboard stretch to maintain it. This section is necessary to keep the ICWW segregated from the Gulf.
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bwana39

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Re: TxDOT receives bids for $41 million bridge to (nearly) nowhere
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2021, 05:56:39 PM »



Kinda looks like the fate of Rt. 87 SH-87 (or TX-87) north east of Houston is about to happen here as well...

I am so bad.... the only ROOTS in Texas are on plants. While SH 87 does go north from Port Arthur, The stretch that has eroded away is east (probably southeast) of Houston
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 10:58:53 PM by bwana39 »
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