Bridge Investigation: Washington County Road Crews Deviated From Engineer Plans

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WASHINGTON COUNTY — The findings of a Washington County investigation into bridges in the county presented at a Quorum Court Meeting Tuesday.

Justice of the Peace Eva Madison led the investigation along with the County Assessor, interviewing 16 current and former employees and toured sites with engineers over the past two weeks. Investigators found there were lots of deviations from what engineers had planned for the Stonewall and Harvey Dowell bridges, including material quality and steel placement issues.

“We found numerous deviations from engineering plans on Harvey Dowell and what’s completed from Stonewall bridges. They range from concrete quality to improper bending of rebar to just how construction was done top to bottoms,” said Madison.

Madison went on to say she does not believe that the county cut corners, but that county employees were not properly trained to build bridges: “We gave them some very complicated engineering drawings that were great plans. They weren’t really trained on how to read those, didn’t really understand the significance of following those.”

Madison says the bridges are safe, but has recommended the county begin working on reinforcing them: “We’re talking about defects that just reduce the life span of bridges that cause them to deteriorate more quickly were not talking about a bridge collapsing.”

It is now up to County Judge Marilyn Edwards to decide what the county’s next step is, but in addressing the quorum court in the meeting Tuesday she said she wants time to review.

“I want to sit down with the report in front of me. I want to look at everything very carefully. As all of you around this horseshoe know I can’t make snap decisions because I get sued if I do and I get sued if I don’t,” said Judge Edwards.

Justice of the Peace Eva Madison also mentioned she had similar concerns with the County Road 62 bridge. County investigators also suggested a separate road department investigation.

In all the current bridge investigation cost the county $3,000.

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