NDOT disputes worker claim about Galena bridge
December 30, 2009
RENO (AP) – State transportation officials say inspections are continuing but they don’t believe there’s anything to a former construction worker’s claims that substandard concrete was used in the construction of a new highway bridge north of Carson City.
Brad Durski, project manager for the Nevada Department of Transpor-tation, said there is no basis for the ex-worker’s complaint that prompted a state investigation into the structural integrity of some of the concrete on the Galena Forest Bridge.
“There is no safety issue,” Durski said Monday.
The 918-foot-long bridge just south of Mount Rose Highway is the second-longest of nine bridges included in a $600 million project to build a new freeway linking Reno and Carson City.
David Lee told The Associated Press earlier this month he was ordered to use substandard concrete to save money during construction of the bridge.
Lee worked for a project subcontractor, California-based C.C. Myers, but was laid off by the firm in October. He said he first notified NDOT in September about his fear the bridge could suffer a “catastrophic failure.”
Lee said he pointed out alleged deficiencies in the bridge to NDOT officials on a blueprint.
NDOT notified him in a Nov. 20 letter they were investigating his claims but Lee said on Tuesday no one has ever asked him to visit the site to pinpoint for inspectors the defective work he said he did.
“Why hasn’t anybody asked me to come show them where the problems are?” Lee told AP.
Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder described Lee as a “disgruntled” former employee and said his claims of substandard construction of the bridge were investigated by the state and C.C. Myers and found to lack basis. Some additional inspections are planned, officials said.
“What he is saying has no validity whatsoever as to the integrity of this structure,” Durski said. “Everything he’s brought up, we’ve looked at. We have inspected the areas he’s called into question, and we found no problem.”
Durski said Lee’s job was routine and involved installation of small cosmetic patches near access and utility portals on the bridge. It did not involve concrete used for bridge decks and columns and had no impact on the structure’s integrity, Durski said.
Inspectors would have found anything substandard, he said.
Lee, 49, said Durski “is misinformed.”
“I was part of pouring of concrete of the forms,” Lee said. “I was involved in every aspect of the pouring of the concrete of that bridge.”
“I’m not afraid to come forward with this because I’m the guy who did it. I know it happened,” he said.
The work on the Galena Forest Bridge is nearly finished. Construction continues on the massive Galena Creek Bridge, which will tower nearly 300 feet in the air. About 1,700 feet long with a nearly 700-foot supporting arch, the Galena Creek Bridge will be the largest structure of its type in the world.
That bridge was the focus of controversy in 2006 when a previous contractor, Wisconsin-based Edward Kraemer and Sons, halted its construction amid concern it could collapse due to high winds during a particularly vulnerable point in its construction.
The state disputed those concerns but ultimately agreed to pay the company $50 million for work already completed. A new $393 million construction contract was awarded to North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., which hired C.C. Myers Inc. for the bridge construction.
The 8.5-mile-long freeway is expected to open in fall 2011.