Inslee: WSDOT will be held accountable for 520 Bridge mistakes

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insleeOLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee pledged Wednesday to correct whatever it was that went wrong at the Washington State Department of Transportation that led to the costly State Route 520 Bridge pontoon cracks – a mistake that could cost as much as $100 million.

It’s the first real problem of Inslee’s tenure, and Wednesday he expressed real frustration.

“I’m grossly disappointed that the protocols of the Department of Transportation that should have been followed were not followed,” Inslee said about the lack of adequate testing at the design stage. “I don’t believe there is a legitimate excuse for that not having been done.”

An independent report lays the blame on WSDOT engineers, not outside contractors.

The governor promised that the people responsible will be held accountable.

“There will be letters that will be going out shortly to some of the Department of Transportation employees,” Inslee said. “Appropriate discipline will be decided after their due process rights are respected.”

Republican legislative leaders took aim at the WSDOT and what they argue is a history of mismanagement.

“We are seeing time and time and time again where through WSDOT we’ve got big problems,” said state Rep. Dan Kristiansen, chairman of the House Republican Caucus and a former contractor.Were we up to it?” he asked.  “When you are dealing with massive projects that carry certain levels of liability, let’s make sure we have the right people for the job.”

Just last week, Democrats unveiled a $10 billion package to help with transportation projects across the state.  The centerpiece is a 10-cent increase in the gas tax. Republicans said these latest pontoon problems means their support for that plan will be hard to secure.

“Until we have some kind of confidence around DOT’s ability to do the project correctly, then I don’t think we can continue to keep throwing good money after bad,” said state Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis.

But Inslee maintains this is still the year to pass a transportation package.

“I’m not going to allow these cracks to be a crack in our confidence moving forward,” he said. “We’re going to fix these problems.”

The transportation plan, including the gas tax hike, would need two-thirds of the Legislature to pass – or a simple majority to send it to voters this November.

The state Supreme Court said it may issue a ruling Thursday on a challenge to the state’s two-thirds rule to pass tax measures. The suit, brought by the League of Education Voters, assets that the state constitution says that bills require a majority vote only in both houses of the Legislature to become law.


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  • Eileen Brunetti

    Yackety, Yack, Yack !! MORE double-speak from our esteemed Gov ! If you don't think there will be a total citizen revolt if you screw us with a 10 cent a gallon tax than I have a bridge to sell you Inslee! I refuse to pay for Olympia's mistakes. Live with it! I will NOT drive the 520, simple as that.

  • Mike

    No one will be fired. No one will be demoted, a stern "letter" of reprimand then a nice fat raise, that is about the way government runs. If the offenders were law enforcement they would likely also endure a forced paid vacation. The parasites that populate the government at all levels seem to think of themselves as entitled and consider the taxpayer as mere subjects to be deprived of their property whenever it suits the collective, hardly what was envisioned by the founding document the Declaration Of Independence, in fact completely contrary to individual sovereignty.

  • guest

    "wsdot will be held accountable" what CRAP!!! the taxpaters of Washington still have to pay for it!!! real accountability would be for those who screwed it up to pay for it!

  • Kathy Schlotterback

    The taxpayers are screwed no matter what they do to WSDOT. Why aren't they going after Kiewit? Whose pocket did he line? How about a citizen class action suit against the dork?

  • Jjohnson

    I find it incredible that you all believe our politicians when they say state engineers were responsible for these errors.
    I want to know, when are we going to hold the private sector, the ones making millions off this project responsible for their errors!

  • John Fuller

    WSDOT will be held accountable for 520 Bridge mistakes, but the TAX PAYERS will have to foot the bill. More B.S. from our elected regime of ineptitude.

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