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Fred Hartman Bridge
Fred Hartman Bridge Houston.jpg
Coordinates 29°42′12″N 95°01′03″W / 29.70347°N 95.01742°W / 29.70347; -95.01742
Carries 8 lanes of SH 146
Crosses Houston Ship Channel
Locale Harris County, south of Baytown, Texas and north of La Porte, Texas
Official name Fred Hartman Bridge
Maintained by Texas Department of Transportation
Design fan arranged cable-stayed bridge
Material cables: polymer-wrapped twisted steel wire bundles
pylons: reinforced concrete
main deck: reinforced concrete
approach deck: precast prestressed concrete
Total length 4.185 kilometers (2.60 mi)
Width 47 meters (154 ft)
Height 133 meters (436 ft) (pylon)
Longest span 381 meters (1,250 feet)
Clearance above 80.6 meters (262 feet)
Clearance below 54.8 meters (178 feet)
Construction begin 1986
Construction end 1995
Opened September 27, 1995; 27 years ago (1995-09-27)
Toll none

The Fred Hartman Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. state of Texas spanning the Houston Ship Channel. The bridge carries 2.6 miles (4.2 km) of State Highway 146 (SH 146), between the cities of Baytown and La Porte (east of Houston). The bridge is also expected to carry State Highway 99 (SH 99) (Grand Parkway) when it is completed around Houston.

The bridge, named for Fred Hartman (1908–1991), the editor and publisher of the Baytown Sun from 1950 to 1974, is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Texas, and one of only four such bridges in the state, the others being Veterans Memorial Bridge in Orange County, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas and Bluff Dale Suspension Bridge in Erath County. It is the 77th largest bridge in the world. The construction cost of the bridge was $91.25 million.

The bridge replaced the Baytown Tunnel (of depth clearance 40 feet or 12.2 m). The tunnel had to be removed when the Houston Ship Channel was deepened to 45 feet (13.7 m), with a minimum 530 feet (161.5 m) bottom width, to accommodate larger ships. The last section of the Baytown Tunnel was removed from the Houston Ship Channel on September 14, 1999, with removal of the tunnel being the responsibility of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).


Fred Hartman Bridge
Fred Hartman Bridge

In October 1985 the Texas Highway department announced the project and estimated it would take two years to complete. The bridge was designed by Greiner Engineering, Inc., which was acquired by URS Corporation in 1995, which in turn was acquired by AECOM in October 2014. Construction began in 1987 and was contracted by Williams Brothers and Traylor Brothers construction companies. In 1993, The firm selected to produce the steel, a Mexican company, went bankrupt. The contract was then awarded to a South African company which caused complaints because of the country's apartheid policies. After the completion date was pushed back several times, a letter was sent to the Texas Department of Transportation's executive director, William Burnett from the city of Baytown via the Baytown Sun in early 1995 which helped spur interest in finishing the project. Finally, on September 27, 1995 the Fred Hartman Bridge had its grand opening ceremony, which was hosted by Baytown Chamber of Commerce and La Porte Chamber of Commerce. Notable guests include George W. Bush, Miss Texas 1995, William Burnett and the Hartman family. Fred Hartman died in 1991 and did not live to see his dream come to fruition.

The possibility of placing tolls on the bridge became an issue in a runoff election for the Texas House of Representatives in 2016 between the Republican winner, attorney Briscoe Cain of Deer Park, and the defeated seven-term Representative Wayne Smith of Baytown. Cain claimed that an online petition opposing tolling of the structure was a "preventative measure" because, "Smith's work history and legislative record on transportation gives Texans plenty to be concerned about." Bob Leiper, a former city manager in Baytown, leaped to Smith's defense in a "Letter to the Editor" of the Baytown Sun: I was astounded by Briscoe Cain's claim that Rep. Wayne Smith is somehow trying to make the Hartman Bridge a toll bridge. As an attorney you would think he would seek the truth before making such a wild claim and blaming it on one of the best friends and advocate Baytown ever had in Austin.

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