Accusations of shoddy workmanship are coming forward on the I-580 freeway project. A construction worker who was responsible for building bridges on the new freeway extension between Reno and the Washoe Valley says he was ordered to fill cracks in a bridge with stucco because it was cheaper than concrete. He kept quiet because he was afraid for his job, but now that he’s been laid off he feels free to come forward.
The bridge in question is not the giant Galena Creek Bridge that can be seen from Hwy 395 in Pleasant Valley (and seen above). That bridge has been taking shape for years now, and is the most visible icon of the project. But the new freeway is going to be 8 miles long all together, and includes many little bridges over smaller ravines. The bridge that supposedly had the shoddy work done is the Galena Forest Bridge, which is hidden from view from the highway but is just as vital to the project. The Galena Forest Bridge will carry the freeway over the Steamboat geothermal fields, where the ground is unstable and riddled with crevasses that allow boiling hot water to come to the surface.
The accusations are serious and worth investigating, which NDOT is doing now. The last thing this project needs is more delays. Although you do have to wonder why the guy waited until after he was laid off, if there was a real risk of collapse. I guess knowing there are a dozen guys waiting to get your job helps keep your mouth shut. I also wonder if it’s really as easy to sneak things by the inspectors as just waiting until they go to lunch. There’s something fishy on both sides of the story, and we’ll have to give it time to unravel.
It doesn’t surprise me. Shoddy workmanship is more common in the building industry than is common knowledge. It goes for both commercial construction and residential construction. The problem is that nobody does anything about it, including the politicians.
A mistake is one thing, but the people involved in covering-up the shoddy workmanship committed more than a mistake. They violated the public trust, which in my opionion amounts to criminal conduct. They cheated the public and endangered every person’s lives had it remained in the described condition once it was opened.
If what the worker says is true, more than fines and repairs need to be levied and made. The guilty parties, the people involved in or with knowledge of the cover-up, up to and including the actual license-holding contractor need to go to jail.
Then, the politicians need to change the laws to hold the contractors fully responsible for their shoddy workmanship that endangers and cheats individuals and the public. The current laws let them off without a scratch. Their insurance compaies eventually payoff for the shoddy work, but the contractor goes on without paying a cent, both in money and in their freedom to continue with business as usual. In the meantime, the individual victims are tortured by the legal process and, as in this case, the public incurs increased charges and delays to fix the defective construction that wasn’t their fault.
However, it’s not going to change if The People don’t stand up and say “enough is enough.” Just track the money. In the case of the building/contracting industry, just look at how much they give to the politicians’ election funds. The amount is staggering, so expect these kinds of situations to continue.
The contractors will just go on with business as usual. They will only occasionally get caught with just a slap on the hand, but they will save a lot of money along the way. There’s no incentive for them to stop cheating the public and endangering their safety and welfare.