Pontoon problems on SR 520 bridge need more than assurances | Editorial

A recent report by KOMO-TV Problem Solvers paints a disturbing picture of work on the new 520 bridge. The station cited a former inspector as saying the new 520 Bridge is “a disaster waiting to happen.”

The problem, the former inspector said, is the shoddy work on the first pontoons that were built in Aberdeen.

KOMO also mentioned a scathing internal audit that it says shows the state failed to hold contractor Kiewit accountable.

Why do we suddenly have a sinking feeling?

The inspector told KOMO that every day he saw iron-workers misplacing or using the wrong-sized rebar – the structural steel that provides the strength and framework of the pontoons. He’s quoted as saying “it’s the worst I’ve been on - for inferior work.”

Recent news stories describe and photos illustrate that water is leaking in the pontoons. The state says that the pontoons and bridge won’t be accepted unless and until it is safe. Kiewit says it has “a rigorous and redundant quality management system.”

The question remains, thought, why were pontoons leaking in the first place, and even more, why does that appear to be continuing?

Assurances of a well-built floating bridge are one thing. Actual water-tight pontoons are another. Given what this bridge will cost, we deserve the latter.

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