Consultant Report Reviews WSDOT’s Megaprojects

By Derek Wang

A key part of Washington state’s transportation department should be re-organized, according to a new consultant’s report . The report stems from costly mistakes on the 520 floating bridge project near Seattle.

Jjust to recap how we got here, back in February the state admitted its designs for some of the 520 pontoons for the new bridge were faulty. The pontoons had cracks, and the department later admitted that they didn’t run their designs through computer modeling. That mistake cost the project more than $100 million. 

As a result, the state transportation secretary hired a consultant to review the state’s procedures for megaprojects like 520 and the Alaskan Way viaduct replacement. This new report doesn’t have any huge bombshells, but it does make some recommendations. It says the state’s office of Chief engineer needs to be reorganized. That’s the office that oversees megaprojects. 

It also says WSDOT did not use their own quality control systems, and says the department should consider creating an ongoing review panel that would review mega projects.

Before the mistake with the pontoons, the 520 project already had a funding gap of 1.4 billion dollars. The project has had to dip into its pool of emergency funds to pay to repair the pontoons.

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