MDOT Says No One At Fault For Z-Bridge Mishap 12-09-2010 - WNEM TV 5

MDOT Says No One At Fault For Z-Bridge Mishap 12-09-2010

It’s been more than two years since a work crew cut a reinforced steel cable in the Zilwaukee Bridge, and now the Michigan Department of Transportation has issued a report that said no one is at fault.
The incident brought the expansion bearing replacement project to a halt and diverted traffic in the northbound lanes along Interstate 75 over the Saginaw River for months.
The project, originally budgeted at $3.3 million, ended up costing $3.8 million.
A private MDOT investigation reveals the cutting incident was no one’s fault, and MDOT had to fix the problem on the taxpayer’s dime.
Michigan State representative Ken Horn is not happy about that.
"It’s still all the taxpayers’ money,” said Horn. “And money that spent on a bridge and not on [a] pot hole. That was money wasted."
Horn said it took 2 years for MDOT’s private consultant to send lawmakers a preliminary report. That report reveals the contractors had no idea how big the reinforced steel was, and that led the contractor to cut it.
"The steel itself was larger and we didn't know because it was not on the original as-built plan," said MDOT region engineer Robert Ranck.
The original blueprint dates back to when the bridge was first constructed back in the late 1980's. MDOT hired an independent consultant to get to the root of the 2008 issue. That private company discovered there were changes made to the bridge that were never documented.
"Those kind of field changes happen,” admits Ranck.
So if the mishap is going be blamed on sloppy documentation from the 1980's, TV5 wanted to know if there was any way to prevent this type of mistake from happening in the future.
"Anything we look at with the Zilwaukee Bridge, we take extra care of it, because it’s a segmental bridge, one of the most unique structures in the United States," Ranck said.
Being unique comes with a cost. The unforeseen repair cost $950,000, and lawmakers say it’s time to follow the money and hold someone accountable
"Ultimately, it’s going be a perfectly safe bridge,” emphasizes Horn. “Question is, how much money was spent but for the fact that this paper work was sloppy."
MDOT has not revealed who is conducting the private investigation. The full report on the findings is set to be released in three months.
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