The New Ship Channel Bridge on the Sam Houston Tollway

A PRECAST SEGMENTAL CABLE STAYED BRIDGE FOR HARRIS COUNTY TOLL ROAD AUTHORITY (HCTRA

Construction is underway on the new precast segmental cablestayed Ship Channel Bridge in Houston, Texas for HCTRA. This world-class signature bridge on the Sam Houston Tollway (East) will replace the existing Jesse H. Jones Bridge, a cast-in-place segmental box girder structure that was built in 1982. Although the existing bridge is in excellent condition, a projected growth in traffic to almost triple what it is today demanded an increase in travel lanes from 2 to 4 lanes in each direction with full 10-foot shoulders and keep the new bridge in existing right of way. HCTRA elected to span the Houston Ship Channel waterway completely to accommodate future widening and deepening planned by the Port of Houston, resulting in a main span length between pylons of 1,320 feet. The 175-foot vertical clearance to the channel matches that of the Fred Hartman cable-stayed bridge located at the entrance to Galveston Bay.

Although the existing bridge is in excellent condition, a projected growth in traffic to almost triple what it is today demanded an increase in travel lanes from 2 to 4 lanes in each direction with full 10-foot shoulders and keep the new bridge in existing right of way.

Six teams competed to build this first phase of the project, and Ship Channel Constructors (SCC) a Joint Venture between Traylor Bros. Inc., and Zachry Construction Corporation won the best-value competition with a bid of $568 million. The contract value includes construction of new southbound bridge approach bridges, the full concrete segmental cable-stayed main bridge in both travel directions, and the removal of the existing bridge’s segmental main span unit. It is the largest single contract ever advertised by Harris County.

Construction Notice to Proceed was given on March 19, 2018. Cofferdam sheetpiling has been installed at both main pylon foundations. Work is ongoing to construct the drilled shaft foundations for the back-span piers and the main pylons, the deepest 8-foot diameter shafts extending to depths of 240 feet due to the poor soils in the Houston area. Work on the footings and pylon legs is expected to start Spring 2019.

Designed by FIGG, the 2,720-foot-long cablestayed main bridge features 556 precast segments, each 81'-9" wide, 12'-1" deep, and weighing in at 135 tons. SCC is constructing a casting yard directly adjacent to the project site to produce these segments and has procured casting machines from DEAL that will produce segments using the long line match-casting method. Casting is expected to start in late 2018. Segment lifters will erect the segments in balanced-cantilever from each of the two pylons concurrently.

To maintain traffic on the Tollway at all times, the new bridge is being built in phases. The new Southbound Bridge will be opened to temporary bi-directional traffic in fall 2021 and overall project completion is expected in late 2024. This bridge was featured in Roads & Bridges Magazine in February 2018.

Project Details

Owner:

Harris County Toll Road Authority
 

Designer:

FIGG
 

Contractor:

Ship Channel Constructors;a Joint Venture of Traylor Brothers, Inc. and Zachry Construction
 

Contractor Engineering Services:

T.Y. Lin International
 

Construction Engineering Inspection:

HNTB Corporation
 

Erection Equipment:

NRS
 
DEAL
 

Post-Tensioning Materials:

Dywidag Systems International, USA, Inc.
 

Stay Cable Materials:

Dywidag Systems International, USA, Inc.
 

Bearings:

D.S. Brown Company