Southmore Bridge re-opens to traffic

Families frustrated with SH 288 construction delays

There could be light at the end of the bridge construction tunnel for people who live work and travel through Third Ward.

HOUSTON – There was light at the end of the bridge-construction tunnel for people who live, work and travel through Third Ward.

Photos of the Southmore Boulevard Bridge that spans Highway 288 showed traffic was moving across it again Tuesday.

The news couldn’t come fast enough for folks impacted by the 2 1/2-year closure.

“I thought it would’ve been ready by now,” said Sheila, a clerk at the Exxon gas station at the corner of 288 and Southmore, who has had a front-row seat to the numerous delays to the project that was supposed to be done in the Spring. "It’s really bad for business actually, it’s just inconvenient for all of the customers.”

TxDOT has said the delays were due to everything from contractor scheduling issues due to COVID-19 to weather.

The contractor in charge of the entire project, Almeda Genoa Constructors faces penalties of $100,000 per day if the project is unfinished, TxDOT said. The Southmore Bridge isn’t the only one causing traffic trouble for Third Ward residents.

The Harris County Flood Control District has been working for more than a year on the Ardmore Street Bridge that connects North MacGregor and South MacGregor, about one mile east of the Southmore bridge.

The construction on the Ardmore bridge is part of HCFCD’s Brays Bayou improvement project, which many residents said they welcomed, despite being frustrated by the delays on this project as well.

“Pretty frustrated. We’ve had deadline, after deadline, after deadline with it. Promises never kept,” said homeowner Elizabeth Bray.

In an update on its website, HCFCD said the opening of the Ardmore bridge had been again delayed, “due to construction quality issues. Unfortunately, the work performed on the bridge did not meet Harris County Flood Control District specifications during a routine inspection.”

“We encountered some deficient items in the concrete bridge deck. It’s 100% on the contractor at this point. They (James Construction Group) are under the clock to get this repair completed and completed quickly because it cost them money every day they don’t,” said Nathan Hayden with Harris County Flood Control District.

Hayden said remedial repairs are now underway on the Ardmore bridge that could be complete before the end of the New Year.

NOTE: The video attached to this story is from an earlier version of this story.