Harbor Bridge contractor Flatiron/Dragados linked to Barbara Canales

In a press conference led by area elected officials at City Hall on Wednesday, August 17, 2021, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) confirmed in their elaborate engineering lingo — the $800 million dollar New Harbor Bridge is sinking. Harbor Bridge contractor Flatiron/Dragados’ Chief Spokesperson Lynn Allison continues to refuse to comment despite TXDOT’s Executive Director saying Flatiron/Dragados’ actions to ensure the safety of the New Harbor Bridge are unacceptable and they have been given a 15 day notice of default or they will be fired. If Flatiron/Dragados continues, the new Harbor Bridge is at risk of collapse.

The Crónica was the first to break the story more than a year ago in May of 2021. Just like loyal Crónica readers believed for more than a year, TXDOT has now admitted it knew about the significant design flaws years before. We believe Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and officials at the Port of Corpus Christi also knew. The Port has invested $85 million dollars into the project and Port Chairman Charlie Zahn said yesterday the Port has provided zero oversight of the project. Not one Port official ever bothered to go check in on their $85 million dollar New Harbor Bridge investment?

Back in the fall of 2019, the Crónica found it very odd when Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales’ best friend and party planner Lynn Allison was given a top job for Harbor Bridge contractor Flatiron/Dragados. She is also the ex-wife of Canales’ husband Doug Allison. Bringing in the big cash to the benefit of their mutual kids was certainly a great thing for all of them. But for almost two decades, Lynn Allison was best known for renting out party supplies, including very expensive napkins and tablecloths to wannabe “socialites.” But back in 2019, the Harbor Bridge contractor Flatiron/Dragados was already in trouble. Their hand picked engineer FIGG was blamed by the National Transportation Safety Board for the collapse of a bridge in Miami that killed six people and injured a dozen more. Questions were being asked about Flatiron/Dragados– and suddenly, Barbara Canales’ best friend Lynn Allison was hired to be Flatiron/Dragados “Chief Spokesperson.” 

After the Harbor Bridge contractor Flatiron/Dragados hired Lynn Allison, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and the Port of Corpus Christi that she controls, went silent. As the senior elected official of Nueces County, Barbara Canales never publicly questioned the New Harbor Bridge safety, despite countless people posting online and publicly questioning the bridge’s design flaws and the fact it was years behind schedule. As County Judge, Barbara Canales is also the senior oversight official of the Port of Corpus Christi and once again failed to demand that Port Commissioners ask hard questions about the Port’s $85 million dollar Harbor Bridge investment. Insiders at the County say that Barbara Canales is always demanding and yelling about something. Why didn’t Canales demand answers about the safety of the single most important project- the bridge? 

When the City of Corpus Christi called in Flatiron/Dragados to ask safety questions, a smiling Lynn Allison appeared and gave a detailed presentation on the new “light show” the bridge would offer that included green lights for St. Patrick’s Day and pink lights to represent the Easter Bunny. She did the same presentation time after time. Lynn Allison was such a constant presence at local functions, people were beginning to believe her. Full stop.

Except the situation was insidious. The bridge had serious design flaws and if constructed continued, TXDOT experts confirmed the New Harbor Bridge could collapse and people could possibly die. A bridge collapse would almost certainly cause catastrophic damage to life and decimate the local economy for decades. 

What’s even crazier about this $800 million dollar problem is that the people of the region have always known there was a big problem with the bridge. No one seems to trust the bridge’s design or the construction. Locals have been saying forever that they will never drive the bridge once it is constructed. The public trust has been decimated. Meanwhile, Lynn Allison steadfastly refuses to answer questions. 

The Crónica is calling on Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales to call her friend Lynn Allison and get some answers for us. We want to know, is Flatiron/Dragados going to move to correct the design flaws so the New Harbor Bridge will not collapse? Or are they going to be fired and cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars? 

The Crónica continues our hard hitting investigation into corruption and the social ties that are holding our region down. For Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and her friends, winter is coming November 8, Election Day.