Frequently Asked Questions.
1. Why is TxDOT considering replacing Harbor Bridge?
Answer: TxDOT has determined that US 181 and the Harbor Bridge must be improved to maintain a safe and efficient transportation corridor. The existing bridge has safety issues associated with the lack of shoulders, steep grade, a reverse curve, and an accident rate that is higher than the statewide average. The Harbor Bridge also has high maintenance costs and provides no acceptable access for those on foot or on bicycles. Furthermore, the bridge’s 138 feet of navigational clearance, which met World War II standards when it was built, make it difficult for the Port of Corpus Christi to compete with other Gulf Coast deep water ports because of larger ship sizes today.
A new bridge would allow TxDOT to improve safety, thereby reducing accident rates; provide better opportunities for moving people and goods (including military equipment and Port assets) throughout the region; provide adequate capacity to meet future traffic demand; and provide greater economic development opportunities for the Port of Corpus Christi.
2. How will TxDOT decide whether or not to replace Harbor Bridge?
Answer: Before it can make any decision about the Harbor Bridge, TxDOT must complete a series of project activities to ensure that all aspects of a possible new bridge have been considered. In the summer of 2003, TxDOT completed a Feasibility Study, which evaluated four alternative corridors (including the existing one) where a replacement of the Harbor Bridge might be located. The “no-build” option-leaving the bridge as it is now—was also examined. Now TxDOT is working on two other key activities—preparing the environmental documentation that is required before any new bridge could be built—and the schematic design—developing the preliminary engineering designs for a new bridge, associated approaches, and tie-ins to existing roadways. The results of the environmental study and schematic design, including a considerable amount of public input, will enable TxDOT to decide on a bridge replacement.
3. What is an Environmental Impact Statement?
Answer: An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for large projects that use federal funds. It provides a detailed analysis of the probable environmental consequences of the preferred alternative(s) for a project. The EIS also considers the environmental consequences of the no-build alternative. Public input is considered throughout the EIS development process. The EIS must be reviewed by various state and federal regulatory agencies, and must ultimately be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Highway Administration.
4. When will the EIS be ready for the public to review?
Answer: A draft EIS will be ready for public comment sometime in 2013. A more detailed project timeline can be found on this website.
5. When might a new bridge be in place?
Answer: Many factors affect the timing of a possible bridge replacement. The purpose of the current environmental documentation phase is to come up with a recommendation regarding the proposed alternatives (including the “no-build”) and to obtain environmental clearance to proceed. Once TxDOT has received environmental clearance for the project (anticipated to be sometime in 2015), the timing for bridge construction will depend on the availability of funding.
6. Why will it take so long to replace Harbor Bridge?
Answer: The process of planning and building a project of this size takes many years (see project timeline). TxDOT completed a feasibility study in 2003 and is now compiling the environmental documentation and preparing the schematic design for a possible bridge replacement. During these stages of the project, public input is sought and considered. If the project is given the go-ahead, the right-of-way must be obtained, the detailed design developed, and the bridge constructed. Throughout the entire process, various state and federal agencies must review and approve the environmental documentation and the proposed plans. Furthermore, TxDOT must obtain the funding to build a bridge, if that is the selected alternative.
7. How much will a new bridge cost to build?
Answer: At this point, TxDOT estimates that it may cost about $500-600 million to build a new bridge and the associated approaches and tie-ins, should the final decision be made to replace Harbor Bridge.
8. What would a new bridge look like?
Answer: Harbor Bridge is currently a steel truss-style bridge over a highly corrosive saltwater environment. It is still too early in the process to determine the look of a new bridge. Local citizens will have a chance to offer ideas about the design of a new bridge during a Design Guideline Workshop to be held in 2013. At that time, the bridge architects and planners will present some possible bridge design ideas and will seek ideas from the public.
9. Will I be able to walk or bicycle across a new bridge?
Answer: Currently the existing Harbor Bridge does not provide any bicycle lanes and the sidewalk is closed to the public; however, the City of Corpus Christi and Nueces County have identified Harbor Bridge as a desired link in their recently adopted Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans.
The plan is for any new bridge to provide access for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as motor vehicles.
10. Where would a new bridge cross the Corpus Christi Ship Channel?
Answer: The location has not yet been determined. The Feasibility Study completed in 2003 identified four possible corridors and identified one of those as a preferred alternative. However, the Federal Highway Administration has asked TxDOT to look at several of these alternatives (including the no-build) during the environmental documentation/schematic design phase of the project.
11. How would a new bridge tie into the existing road system in Corpus Christi?
Answer: The schematic design currently being developed will evaluate various options for connecting a new Harbor Bridge and its approaches to the Crosstown Expressway (SH 286). Public input on access ramps and approaches is being considered throughout this process.
12. How will a new bridge affect neighborhoods near the old bridge?
Answer: During the environmental documentation process, TxDOT will be considering the impact of any new structure on the nearby neighborhood homes and businesses. These impacts will be described in the EIS. Comments from the public about potential neighborhood impacts are important input.
13. How can I participate in the Harbor Bridge project?
Answer: Public involvement is a key element of the Harbor Bridge project. You can participate in the project in a number of ways. At the project’s public meetings and hearing, you can learn more about the project and provide comments. You can attend meetings of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) or Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which hold regular informal meetings with TxDOT to exchange information. You should also continue to monitor this project website for new developments.
14. What is the Citizens’ Advisory Committee?
Answer: The Harbor Bridge Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) is an advisory group composed of people within the community who represent a broad range of views, backgrounds, and interests. The committee serves in an advisory role to the Harbor Bridge project team and acts as a valuable link between TxDOT and the community throughout the EIS and schematic (preliminary engineering design) for this project.
15. How can I become a Citizens’ Advisory Committee member?
Answer: Individuals may nominate themselves for membership or be nominated by others. TxDot makes the final decision on membership based on the criteria described below.
Criteria considered by TxDOT for CAC membership include:
- Broad representation of stakeholder interests
- Geographical representation within the project area
- Demonstrated interest in the Harbor Bridge project
- Willingness to make time commitment needed for CAC participation.
Contact the TxDOT project manager (Victor Vourcos at 361-808-2378 or Victor.Vourcos@txdot.gov) for more information.
16. Will the Harbor Bridge project include tolled lanes/managed lanes as was planned in 2007?
Answer: TxDOT has determined that the improvements to US 181 and SH 286 that are part of the replacement of the Harbor Bridge will not include tolled lanes as was planned in 2007 because the project limits have been shortened.
17. What is SAFETEA-LU?
Answer: SAFETEA-LU stands for the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users that is the Transportation funding bill passed by Congress on August 10, 2005.