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New $14M AL Bridge Visibly Sags

Monday, November 11, 2019

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A $14 million bridge in Escambia County, Alabama, near Brewton, a project that is meant to replace the bridge next to it, is sagging, according to reports. There is also cracking present.

"It’s mind boggling to me that it’s gotten this far without them catching the deficiencies," said Escambia County Commissioner Raymond Wiggins.

Bridge Construction History

Back in 2015, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) hired Tanner Construction Company to build the new bridge. In April 2018, however, concerns over the new structure were reported, namely pertaining to inconsistencies in the bridge deck. Around the same time, residents also voiced concerns over erosion and stability of the other bridge.

According to Tanner Construction, the bridge replacement project on SR-41 runs over the Conecuh River with an overall length of .826 miles. The old bridge was built in 1960, with a continuous steel main span and a concrete cast-in-place deck. A 2017 inspection found the structure to be in poor condition.

Two years after the new project was commissioned, the state transportation department reported that it had discovered major deficiencies during inspection. Since then, work has ground to a halt, and blame continues to be appointed.

According to NBC 15 News, the construction company has assigned blame to ALDOT, alleging that the agency failed to notice design flaws, as well as ignoring the company’s warnings about the issues. In a letter obtained by the news station, the company goes on to note that “Tanner fully complied with ALDOT’s mandated design, procedures and inspection for the planning, fabrication and construction of the bridge.”

The company goes on to cite a specific late-August letter from the agency, in which ALDOT insinuates that “Tanner’s field means and methods may have been the cause of the bridge deck issues, but you’ve offered no proof. Moreover, our means and methods have been reviewed and proven to be the industry standard, and per the specifications ALDOT approved the use of our Bidwell screed for the project.”

In a letter dated Oct. 8, the state department of transportation said that it had utilized this same design on three other projects with “no documented issues.” ALDOT went on to claim that the only issues it has had so far is with “Tanner’s work on this one project.”

Ongoing Issues

Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) recently expressed his frustration with the project, citing that it has been two years since the problem was found “and nothing has happened.” Albritton went on to add that the department made a significant mistake in letting work progress to near completion before figuring out that the bridge wasn’t safe to use.

Currently, there is no timeline on when the bridge will be fixed or replaced. The project will be completed with no additional cost to taxpayers, as it is covered by insurance. In the meantime, the old bridge is still safe to use.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Government; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Quality control; Transportation

Comment from Tony Rangus, (11/11/2019, 10:28 AM)

"...the construction company has assigned blame to ALDOT...". I am just a nuts & bolts metallurgist but would not Tanner have registered engineers on staff or as consultants reviewing design & construction requirements to avoid litigation? I would have thought that if Tanner felt the ALDOT was deficient, somebody would have raised the issue. Maybe profit trumps this stuff.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (11/13/2019, 10:58 AM)

Tony, you'd think so, but not necessarily. Some construction firms are pretty much only that. They take the drawings and build to the drawings....any questions or changes go back to the client and have to go through their engineering services to make changes. Even so, you'd hope that any competent and experienced bridge builder should notice when something seems so far amiss as to lead to the deficiencies noted. On the flip side, a certain recent bridge collapse has confirmed in my mind that common sense is essentially extinct in some circles.

Comment from Martin Rose, (11/17/2019, 8:31 AM)

A contractor is hired to build the structure in strict accordance with the construction documents. Period. They can not change or alter the design on their own. That said, when discovering deficiencies, or having significant concerns about the documents, there are procedures to question and receive instructions. This should have a huge paper trail, not just a couple letters.

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