Falsified Test Results Call Into Question the Safety of California's Roads and Bridges

Charles Piller reports on the investigation into suspect safety test results for roads and bridges across CA, including the new Bay Bridge, revealing a string of troubling data for which officials and critics are holding Caltrans accountable.

August 8, 2012, 1:00 PM PDT

By Emily Williams


Following an investigation last November led by the Sacramento Bee that identified testing irregularities caused by a rogue technician, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has begun a review of prior tests conducted on the newly constructed eastern span of the Bay Bridge, and other roads and bridges throughout the state. Their review has found numerous discrepancies in their records, including potentially harmful "intentional modifications" of data.

According to Piller, "[Investigators] found problems that extend beyond that former employee and call into question testing of the new Bay Bridge and three other key Bay Area spans." Their review "identified at least 23 cases of suspect radiation test data used to approve the reinforced concrete foundations of the Bay Bridge, Benicia-Martinez Bridge, Dumbarton Bridge and Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, according to state and federal reports and emails."

Governor Jerry Brown and Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty have refused to comment following these findings, while Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco continues to assert that the Bay Bridge is safe.

California Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has scheduled a public hearing on August 14 to address Caltrans testing measures on the Bay Bridge foundation and what these findings mean in terms of public safety.

Saturday, August 4, 2012 in The Sacramento Bee

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