Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge
Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge
The Harbor Bridge crossing into Corpus Christi
|Carries||6 lanes of US 181 and SH 35|
|Crosses||Port of Corpus Christi|
|Locale||Corpus Christi, Texas|
|Official name||Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge|
|Design||Through arch bridge|
|Longest span||620 ft.|
|Clearance below||138 ft|
The Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge is a through arch bridge located in Corpus Christi, Texas which carries six lanes of US 181 from downtown Corpus Christi to Rincon Point, known to locals as North Beach. The harbor bridge crosses the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, which serves the Port of Corpus Christi, which is one of the US's busiest seaports and handles nearly 26,000 vehicles daily. A new bridge called the New Harbor Bridge is currently under construction, which would allow larger ships to pass beneath. 
The entire bay ecosystem is protected from the Gulf Of Mexico by barrier islands. Mustang Island and San Jose Island are the two principal landmasses that shield the Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays from the wider Gulf. Inland from Corpus Christi Bay is Nueces Bay, the outlet for the Nueces River. The Nueces and Corpus Christi bays are separated by a sandbar anchored on the south end by Rincon Point peninsula and Indian Point peninsula on the north. Just south of Rincon Point was a small natural channel called Hall's Bayou.
Hall's Bayou Bridge
In the 1880s a small wooden bridge was erected over Hall's Bayou, then little more than a muddy slough, to allow access to Rincon Point.
One of the 1920s era federal Rivers and Harbors Acts authorized dredging a channel 25 feet deep and 200 feet wide from the Gulf Of Mexico, through Aransas Pass and on into Hall's Bayou. Dredging was completed and the port was opened in 1926. The Act also authorized the construction of a 121 foot long, 52 foot wide bascule-type drawbridge. The bridge was built by the Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Co. and upon completion was painted black and coated in grease to inhibit corrosion. The operations of the bridge were complex, consisting of whistled signals between approaching ship and bridge operators. When the bridge had to be raised, this caused frustration for drivers who had to cross the bridge, as it was raised well before ships came close, and had to stay raised for up to 20 minutes or more, and sometimes up to 30 times a day.
By the 1950s the Bascule bridge was a significant traffic bottleneck. As part of the nationwide interstate highway system, Congress authorized funding for IH-37 through Corpus Christi and included money for the construction of a new bridge that was elevated over the channel at a height sufficient to allow the passage of ships without stopping vehicular traffic. In 1959 the current Harbor Bridge was completed, allowing ships with a maximum above-waterline height of 138 feet to pass underneath and use a wider portion of the channel than the previous drawbridge. The Harbor Bridge is slated for demolition to be completed in 2021, pending the successful completion of its' replacement.
2020 Harbor Bridge
The 1959 Harbor Bridge was constructed with a 50 year lifespan in mind. In 2008 Local, State, and Federal authorities began the replacement process. The 2020 Harbor Bridge will be a cable-stayed suspension bridge with a 1,661 feet span, rising to a height of 538 feet at the peak of each support pylon. The bridge will allow passage of ships up to 205 feet above-waterline height. The concrete construction technique used for bridge segments have a 170 year estimated life. Construction is slated to finish in 2020.
A new LED lighting system was unveiled to the public on December 4, 2011, at a public lighting ceremony held at Whataburger Field. The $2.2 million project was a joint venture between the City of Corpus Christi, the Port of Corpus Christi, the Texas Department of Transportation, and American Bank. The lighting system comprises more than 950 Philips Color Kinetics fixtures, and has over 11,000 individually addressable RGB nodes.
In 2013 two men and one woman died in unrelated incidents after jumping off the bridge.
- Harbor Bridge, Corpus Christi / Emporis.com
- Hardt, Steven (May 3, 2015). "Developer Selected to Build U.S.'s Longest Cable Stayed Bridge in Corpus Christi, Texas". Los Angeles: Nossaman LLP.
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