BOSTON (CBS) – It’s going to be an agonizing commute every morning for the next six months near the under-construction Everett casino.
“My ride is hell,” says Jim Ghikas, who works at Mike’s Roast Beef, right at the mouth of the very same bridge where he spent years driving through construction, only to face it again. “I’m like ‘Oh my God help me.’”
WBZ’s I-Team has learned federal, state, and city transportation officials signed off on a design change that experts call a crucial mistake, during a recent renovation of the Alford Street Bridge.
“Now they’ve got to go back and basically redo it,” said former State Inspector General Greg Sullivan, who works with the Pioneer Institute. “They made a mistake attaching the roadway on top of the bridge, and now they’ve got to put it back on again. It’s a real tragedy.”
From 2010 to 2014, MassDOT and Boston teamed up to have the drawbridge rehabbed for more than $56 million. It carries Route 99 traffic near the new casino.
“One of the things that bothers me about this is that no one’s fessed up to what happened,” said Sullivan.
When the I-Team pored over inspection records with a Worcester Polytechnic Institute engineer, problems were documented just two years after the work finished. “Grid deck rattles.” Inspectors noted sections of the bridge “shake independently.” There were missing bolts, “visible gaps”, and a possibility that “rivets have sheared.”
It was around that time, Antonio Guccione said a piece of loose metal popped up as he crossed the bridge, piercing a hole in his transmission.
“The next day I see oil go down from my transmission,” he said.
Last June, inspections show problems with metal plates used to patch up the deck that had “premature deterioration.”
The problems may have come from the materials used. According to a MassDOT internal memo, the city and state went with what’s called a “riveted grating system” instead of what the contract called for, which is a “welded grid system.”
That’s what they’re now replacing it with. Why didn’t they do that in the first place? MassDOT says “…it was determined to be the most appropriate product.”
The U.S. Coast Guard calls it an “emergency replacement,” which according to MassDOT, will cost $15 million. That means $71 million has been spent in eight years to fix and then re-fix this bridge, so far.
“This is the equivalent of building a house, and finding out that the foundation was no good, and now you’ve got to go in and tear everything up,” said Sullivan. “They should just stand up and say ‘We made a mistake. We’re very sorry. This is our fault.’”
According to MassDOT, both the state and city will foot the bill, and say they’re negotiating with the contractor, SPS New England over whether they’ll pitch in.