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Author Topic: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project  (Read 11942 times)

MaxConcrete

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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

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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.
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Cody Goodman
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 08:21:15 PM »

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.?
 
 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 08:23:25 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Rothman

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 10:15:03 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.


Two words for you:  Tappan Zee.  Sorry, Texas, but you're in the dust. :D
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Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2015, 12:01:11 AM »

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).
 
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 12:15:59 AM by MaxConcrete »
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TXtoNJ

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2015, 11:57:17 AM »

Max, do you know who was responsible for the engineering of the current bridge? Was it DHPT Houston Division, or the TTA?
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2015, 08:40:52 PM »

Max, do you know who was responsible for the engineering of the current bridge? Was it DHPT Houston Division, or the TTA?

I'm nearly certain it was the TTA, which would have contracted out the design to a consulting firm. But I looked through my readily available book research notes, and I could not find confirmation of TTA doing the design. I have a small booklet published by the TTA or TxDOT which details the history of the TTA. I'm thinking that booklet would likely confirm TTA's role in the design, but it turns out that booklet is in my remote storage unit.
 

FreewayDan

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 10:48:14 AM »

Beginning on January 11th, 2016, the ship channel bridge segment of the Sam Houston Tollway will be EZ TAG only.  The toll plaza north of the bridge will be torn down the weekend before it becomes EZ TAG only.  HCTRA is temporary doing full-service EZ TAG sales at the toll bridge's plaza.

http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/news/a-busy-houston-toll-road-is-about-to-stop-taking-cash/
http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/pasadena/news/prepare-for-ez-tag-only-on-ship-channel-bridge/article_afa9eb98-eaed-5380-ba46-65ddd2747021.html
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MaxConcrete

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In this month's update of the project listings for the next four fiscal years, this project is listed at $823 million.

The right-of-way cost is especially high at $138 million. Since there is little or no property to acquire, I think nearly all that cost is the demolition and removal of the existing bridge.

I was told at a recent HGAC meeting that this project is expected to begin in spring 2017.



Larger view of graphic
https://1968d90e831cd27d2017897e0c81e9a12852eb10.googledrive.com/host/0B4gwdXQk1LyieHZHSTBqd0VJSnc/aaroads/bw8-project-details.png

Originating document, see page 3-22
http://www.h-gac.com/taq/tip/docs/2017-2020/3-Highway-Projects.pdf

MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 08:04:56 PM »

Harris County is soliciting bids. The HCTRA web site lists the cost at $962 millon.
http://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2017/2017-02-14ag.pdf page 8
https://www.hctra.org/Ship_Channel_Bridge_Widening

"Recommendation for authorization to seek bids for a 16-week period for construction of the East Sam Houston Tollway between IH-10 East and SH-225 including construction of twin bridges over the Houston Ship Channel in connection with the Ship Channel Bridge Program in Precinct 2 (UPIN 130505R133)."

TXtoNJ

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2017, 02:39:13 PM »

Max, do you know who was responsible for the engineering of the current bridge? Was it DHPT Houston Division, or the TTA?

I'm nearly certain it was the TTA, which would have contracted out the design to a consulting firm. But I looked through my readily available book research notes, and I could not find confirmation of TTA doing the design. I have a small booklet published by the TTA or TxDOT which details the history of the TTA. I'm thinking that booklet would likely confirm TTA's role in the design, but it turns out that booklet is in my remote storage unit.
 


https://www.pci.org/Design_Resources/Guides_and_Manuals/References/Bridge_Design_Manual/JL-82-May-June_Design_and_Construction_of_the_Houston_Ship_Channel_Bridge/

Found this, which seems to answer all the questions I had about the original bridge's construction. Might be worth a mention on Houston Freeways?
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nolia_boi504

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2017, 05:09:28 PM »

Got a hold of some slides from a presentation seeking bids for the Ship Channel Bridge replacement. I personally love the design!! I already loved the Fred Hartman, and this seems to be a huge improvement over it.





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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 08:06:54 PM »

Your last view (copied below) shows all eight direct connectors for a five-level interchange at SH 225. I feel a little better about the $962 million price tag since the new interchange is included.

Do you have a link to that document?

Got a hold of some slides from a presentation seeking bids for the Ship Channel Bridge replacement.

MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 08:16:45 PM »


https://www.pci.org/Design_Resources/Guides_and_Manuals/References/Bridge_Design_Manual/JL-82-May-June_Design_and_Construction_of_the_Houston_Ship_Channel_Bridge/

Found this, which seems to answer all the questions I had about the original bridge's construction. Might be worth a mention on Houston Freeways?

That's a nice find. Most shocking is the low cost of construction, $19 million for the main span (around $55 million in today's dollars) and $60 million ($174 million in today's dollars) for all construction, including the approaches and adjacent freeway sections.

Of course the new bridge deck is about 2.8 times as wide as the existing bridge, which still scales to $487 million in today's money. The demolition of the existing bridge will probably be an expensive item, I'm thinking maybe $25 to $50 million.

Every time I convert highway construction costs from the 1960s and 1970s to today, the conclusion is always the same. The cost of highway construction has gone up much faster than overall inflation.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2017, 08:20:38 PM by MaxConcrete »
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TXtoNJ

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 09:30:05 PM »


https://www.pci.org/Design_Resources/Guides_and_Manuals/References/Bridge_Design_Manual/JL-82-May-June_Design_and_Construction_of_the_Houston_Ship_Channel_Bridge/

Found this, which seems to answer all the questions I had about the original bridge's construction. Might be worth a mention on Houston Freeways?

That's a nice find. Most shocking is the low cost of construction, $19 million for the main span (around $55 million in today's dollars) and $60 million ($174 million in today's dollars) for all construction, including the approaches and adjacent freeway sections.

Of course the new bridge deck is about 2.8 times as wide as the existing bridge, which still scales to $487 million in today's money. The demolition of the existing bridge will probably be an expensive item, I'm thinking maybe $25 to $50 million.

Every time I convert highway construction costs from the 1960s and 1970s to today, the conclusion is always the same. The cost of highway construction has gone up much faster than overall inflation.


It is amazing. What also stood out to me was part of the rationale for the box girder design (when cable-stayed had been an option) - steel prices were subject to heavy fluctuation, and concrete prices were much more stable. This hints at why costs have elevated so much - concrete is 2.6x more expensive in real terms than it was in 1982.
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compdude787

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2017, 03:45:24 PM »

How old is the existing bridge? Why don't they just twin it?

davewiecking

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2017, 05:38:39 PM »

OP and reply #1 touched on that issue (why tear down a 1982 bridge?). As was stated in the Public Notice, "the piers for the new bridge (actually bridges) will be constructed on land and there will be no obstructions in the waterway", while the current bridge has 2 piers in the channel, one quite near a coal transfer facility. OP's third speculation (desire for a longer span) makes most sense to me (from 1200 miles away).
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 07:54:54 PM »

Thanks nolia_boi504 for those links.

Your last view (copied below) shows all eight direct connectors for a five-level interchange at SH 225. I feel a little better about the $962 million price tag since the new interchange is included.

Well, after reading the documents I don't feel better about the price tag anymore. This project does not include the direct connectors at SH 225. The document about the south approach states "Accommodates future SH 225 direct connectors at S end."

compdude787

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2017, 01:01:20 AM »

OP and reply #1 touched on that issue (why tear down a 1982 bridge?).

Sorry, should have actually read this thread before asking questions like that. I'm amazed that a bridge built in 1982 would have had no shoulders. Bad design much? I guess that they were being really cheap...

Anthony_JK

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2017, 01:34:08 AM »

OP and reply #1 touched on that issue (why tear down a 1982 bridge?). As was stated in the Public Notice, "the piers for the new bridge (actually bridges) will be constructed on land and there will be no obstructions in the waterway", while the current bridge has 2 piers in the channel, one quite near a coal transfer facility. OP's third speculation (desire for a longer span) makes most sense to me (from 1200 miles away).

Also, the original Ship Channel Bridge was only 4 lanes (2x2) with a very excessive 5% gradient crossing the channel. The new bridge will be 4x4 with proper shoulders, and a much better 3% gradient crossing. Too bad about not adding the Pasadena (SH 225) connectors, though.
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DNAguy

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2017, 10:33:03 AM »

HCTRA is missing the boat on the direct connectors. Tolled connectors would be BANK. Although, I don't know if they have the ROW for this. That is most likely TxDOT.

The traffic on the frontage roads at ~ 5-7AM and 4-6PM is horrendous. Actually horrendous is kind.

They actually have Deer Park PD  block a lane on the frontage road to let Shell Refinery contractors out.

Giving people the option of paying $0.50-0.75 just to take a flyover and to not wait 35-45 minutes (what normally is ~ 1-2 minutes) to even get on the bridge would be a godsend for commuters.... and a windfall for whoever tolls it.

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Anthony_JK

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2017, 11:27:42 AM »

HCTRA is missing the boat on the direct connectors. Tolled connectors would be BANK. Although, I don't know if they have the ROW for this. That is most likely TxDOT.

The traffic on the frontage roads at ~ 5-7AM and 4-6PM is horrendous. Actually horrendous is kind.

They actually have Deer Park PD  block a lane on the frontage road to let Shell Refinery contractors out.

Giving people the option of paying $0.50-0.75 just to take a flyover and to not wait 35-45 minutes (what normally is ~ 1-2 minutes) to even get on the bridge would be a godsend for commuters.... and a windfall for whoever tolls it.



Considering that they will be tolling the entire upgrade of the SHT through there, I'd think that they could build the connectors for free and add to the existing Sam Houston tolls via the new toll collection gallery. I don't think that travelers on the Pasadena/225 would go for tolls on the connectors themselves.
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DNAguy

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2017, 11:16:30 AM »

I politely disagree that people wouldn't for the following reasons:

1.) There are 3 "free" crossings over the Ship Channel already (610 bridge, SH146 bridge, and Washburn tunnel) yet traffic backs up here A LOT during rush hour. People still wait through congestion instead of using one of the other routes. They will not care or at least won't change their habits if an additional 33% increase is added to the toll which is what tolling the flyovers does... assuming a $0.50 toll.
2.) There is still the "free" alternative to exit and wait through the light
3.) There are already tolled flyovers/direct connectors in the region and one specifically on the sam Houston tollway
4.) It's only going to get worse with the induced demand that will be created due to the southeast portion, and then east portion of the tollway getting widened.
5.) More chemical plants are being built in the region and billions of $'s are being spent to expand existing facilities due to cheap nat gas
6.) Time is $ and there is a A LOT of 18 wheeler traffic in this area. The toll is worth their time.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 11:18:35 AM by DNAguy »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: HCTRA appears to be readying huge ship channel bridge project
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2018, 05:05:15 PM »

Somehow I missed it when the news was fresh, but I just found this link about the award of the contract for the bridge.
http://www.traylor.com/nhcd-project-win-houston-ship-channel-bridge/

Quote
On Tuesday, September 26th, the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) took the first steps toward awarding Ship Channel Constructors (SCC), a joint venture between Traylor Bros., Inc. and Zachry Construction Corporation, a contract for construction of the Sam Houston Tollway Ship Channel Bridge Replacement. The joint venture will build two new landmark cable-stayed bridges across the channel, providing four toll lanes and full shoulders in each direction, while maintaining traffic on the busy water- and roadways along the alignment.

In the HCTRA contract document (https://www.hctra.org/-/media/3FE15A08139B437A991C1042337C68FD.ashx), the cost is listed at $567,911,750.40, well below the cost estimate of $612 million. This project includes the piece-by-piece removal of the existing segmental (concrete box girder) bridge, basically reversing the step-by-step process used to build it.


 


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