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Fred Hartman Bridge, 1995 OCEA
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The Fred Hartman Bridge design process was dominated by wind considerations, but for many, its unique double-diamond shaped towers leave the most lasting impression. Located east of Houston over the Houston Ship channel, the iconic Fred Hartman Bridge was built to replace the Baytown Tunnel and to improve capacity and traffic flow as the primary connection between the refineries of Baytown and LaPorte. The high winds experienced in the area became the primary concern of engineers, especially since the Fred Hartman is part of a main route for hurricane evacuations. The double-diamond tower configuration, while aesthetically pleasing, also serves to create “truss-action” that supports  greater lateral stiffness for resistance against hurricane-force winds. The design also includes further support through inward-sloping cable planes which connect the upper tower legs with the deck to torsionally resist unbalanced dynamic loadings. The bridge supports two 78 ft wide decks, allowing for eight lanes of traffic with shoulders, and runs 10,475 feet in length.


The Fred Hartman Bridge was constructed at a cost of $91.3 million dollars, which was, at the time, the largest contract ever awarded for a single highway project in Texas. A joint venture between Williams and Traylor brothers, formed in 1986, completed the project in 1995, having overcome multiple obstacles including the bankruptcy of its steel supplier and complications in work processes. The anchor zones at the top of the towers, for example, were too complicated for steel panels and required carpenters to prefabricate wooden forms complete with rebar cages and technicians to calculate the weight of every rebar and piece of wood to ensure the crane could handle lifting these pieces to the top of the 60 ft towers. However, after all of the effort and money expended, those involved in its creation and those who admire it consider the Fred Hartman Bridge to be a tremendous success.




Owner: 
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
Engineer:
 Steve E. Simmons PE, Deputy District Engineer, TxDOT
Contractor: 
 JV of Williams and Traylor Brothers
Photo:
PA2 James Dillard, United States Coast Guard,

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