Even with a few flaws, Texas’ infrastructure is a modern marvel.
Especially its bridges.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are more than 53,000 traffic bridges across the state, and the agency is committed to preserving the environment, local culture, and functional utility of the connectors.
Houston is home to some of the most recognizable and highest structures providing these utilities, including the Waugh Bridge over Bayou Park, which is home to an estimated 250,000 bats.
In addition to traffic utility, TxDOT makes it a priority to provide designated structures to replace natural wildlife habitats lost to urbanization, such as the artificial concrete roosts incorporated into many bridge designs to accommodate Texas’ large bat population.
Perhaps the most recognizable bridge around Houston is the Fred Hartman Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in Texas and 77th largest bridge in the world.
Originally designed to replace the Baytown Tunnel when the Houston Ship Channel was deepened by 45 feet, the bridge opened to traffic in 1995 and has been an iconic landmark ever since.
But the bridge known for its height in the Houston area is Ship Channel Bridge in Pasadena, standing with nearly 175 feet of clearance below.
The Fred Hartman Baytown Bridge and Ship Channel Bridge are actually about the same height in below clearance, and the two may becoming more similar in the next few years.
With more than 1,000 bridges rated ‘structurally deficient’ across Texas, including around 30 heavy traffic bridges in Houston, rumors of replacing the Ship Channel Bridge with a cable suspension structure, like its Baytown Ship Channel neighbor, have been churning some troubled water.
Still prospective at this time, TxDOT spent over $525 million during the last fiscal year maintaining, replacing, rehabilitating, and constructing new bridges, and the construction may truly be a never ending commitment.
Safety remains the state’s highest priority.
For more information on the bridges we take for granted everyday, visit txdot.gov.