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Dori Monson

WSDOT defends ‘great track record’ outside of 520 bridge project

These pontoon cracks are costing taxpayers $128 million, but what happened to the WSDOT engineers that messed up on the pontoon design? (WSDOT Photo/File)

Would you get fired if you cost your company $100 million? Probably. But what has happened on the 520 bridge project and to those responsible for it?

“I think (the 520 bridge) project is an anomaly,” said Keith Metcalf, with the Washington State Department of Transportation. “We’ve made changes to make sure we don’t repeat this.”

Metcalf was on the defense following news that the redesign of the 520 bridge project could eat up the $100 million in reserves and add an additional $128 million to the project’s price tag.

In 2012, cracks were found on the pontoons built in Aberdeen for the floating bridge. Metcalf said the design for the cracked pontoons were provided by WSDOT and not an outside contractor – meaning the cost of the mistake would fall to the state.

Dori asked Metcalf a question he’s been trying to get answered for months – what happened to the WSDOT engineers responsible for the design flaws that are costing hundreds of millions in overruns?

Metcalf said significant action was taken to address the issue and all but one employee involved no longer work at WSDOT. The one person still with WSDOT will have their work closely monitored, according to Metcalf.

With the potential of another taxpayer-funded transportation bill being voted on this fall, Dori asked if we could trust WSDOT with other major projects.

“Other than this project, we have a great track record. The tax packages of ’03 and ’05 have funded $16.3 billion in investments and if you look at what we’ve accomplished to date, there are 344 completed out of 421 (projects,)” said Metcalf. He reported 88 percent of those were on time and 92 percent were on budget. “I think that’s a great track record.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

About the Author

Alyssa Kleven

Alyssa Kleven is an editor and content producer at She enjoys doting over her adorable dachshund Winnie - named for Arcade Fire front-man Win Butler.


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