Tuesday, August 05, 2014

No free speech for critics of California agency: Caltrans muzzled Bay Bridge critics, report says

Caltrans sought to silence engineers who voiced concerns about cost overruns or construction defects on the new Bay Bridge eastern span, forcing several of them from the project, according to an investigative report prepared for a state Senate committee.

Eight engineers who either worked for Caltrans or had contracts with the state agency had to leave their posts, as did a ninth who worked for the bridge's builder, according to the report released Thursday by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

Several engineers criticized the quality of welding work on giant deck sections and tower components that began in 2007 at a factory in Shanghai, while others balked at costly change orders that they saw as benefiting the bridge's lead contractor.

Caltrans has said cracks were found in numerous welds in deck sections made by Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., known as ZPMC. But it says they were not a safety concern and that the welds have been repaired.

Engineers have said they fear lingering weld flaws could worsen over time, leading to cracks in the road decks. Doug Coe, one of the veteran engineers who has gone public about weld concerns, testified before the state Senate committee earlier this year that critics had their "heads chopped off."

Coe was one of the engineers Caltrans and the bridge's project manager, Tony Anziano, forced from the Bay Bridge job after they criticized work being done at ZPMC, a crane maker that had never built a bridge before, the state Senate report said. It said Anziano and the state agency appeared to have a policy of squelching dissent to speed up work on the long-delayed bridge, which at $6.4 billion came in $5 billion over budget.

"This inquiry has uncovered too much testimony fueling the cover-up charge to ignore," said the report, written by former investigative journalist Roland De Wolk.


1 comment:

Bird of Paradise said...

What can you ever expect from a state totaly controled by the Demac-RATS