Safety Inspection Fears Over Bay Area Bridges May Extend To SoCal
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An investigation into safety testing practices used on Northern California bridges is raising questions about structures here in the Southland.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports alleged improprieties involving at least one Caltrans safety inspector have sent shockwaves throughout the state.
A report in the Sacramento Bee alleges Duane Willis falsified data on tests done on support columns on four Northern California bridges, including the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The Bee investigation, which began last May, found internal Caltrans emails that alleged copying and pasting of data between test files and other irregularities.
Willis is no longer with Caltrans, but the findings have stoked fears that the heavily-trafficked bridge may not be able to sustain a severe earthquake — a charge that Governor Jerry Brown roundly rejected.
“All our engineers that work with Caltrans, all the people that I’ve asked to look into it, they feel that the Bee story is baseless, it borders on malpractice,” Brown said last Thursday at a rally in Oakland.
While there is no indication Willis ever worked on projects in Southern California, a team from Caltrans is continuing to review all records of inspections done by Willis.
“The ‘results’ cited by the Bee are taken from a preliminary, draft work product,” Caltrans said in a statement. “It is irresponsible and premature to draw any conclusions from the data at this time.”
Last October, Mayor Antonio Villariagosa and Senator Barbara Boxer launched a joint effort to salvage rapidly-deteriorating infrastructure around the city, including the Sixth Street bridge that spans over the Los Angeles River.
Jillian, who drives through the ongoing San Diego (405) Freeway construction project along the Wilshire exit and other on- and off-ramps, said she’s not too concerned about the findings.
“I would say let’s wait and see what the investigation shows,” she said.
The State Senate Transportation committee is set to hold hearings on the dimensions of possible falsification of safety inspection data next week.