Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Del. businessman: I reported bridge problems in April

By
From page A10 | June 07, 2014 |

DOVER, Del. — A Delaware businessman said he told state transportation officials nearly two months ago something was wrong with a major highway bridge, raising further questions about why they waited until this week to inspect the span and close it after discovering tilting supporting columns.

Charles Allen Jr. told The Associated Press on Friday he noticed that the cement Jersey barriers dividing the northbound and southbound lanes of the Interstate 495 bridge in Wilmington were separating when driving over the bridge on April 15.

“I’ve been driving that road for 34 years,” said Allen, owner of an automotive body shop in Wilmington who lives in Elkton, Maryland. “When you see something off, it catches your eye.”

Allen, 53, said he called 911 after not being able to reach the transportation department immediately. He said a transportation official called him back minutes later and told him someone would look at the bridge the following day. He said that was the last he heard from the department before he started making calls again after the bridge was closed Monday.

“I was ditched by these guys,” Allen said. “They didn’t do their job and they really aggravated me. … That’s what makes me so mad.”

Allen spoke to the AP after The News Journal of Wilmington published an interview with him on its website Friday. The newspaper also posted a recording of the 911 call.

Transportation secretary Shailen Bhatt told the AP his department is “running down details” on Allen’s story and will provide a full briefing on Monday.

Kelly Bachman, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, said the governor “has full confidence in Secretary Bhatt.” She said the state’s focus was on finding a way to fix the bridge, and once that’s done, officials will fully evaluate the agency’s response.

Earlier Friday, Bhatt said an engineer working on an unrelated project near the bridge first reported problems with the bridge May 29. Bhatt said senior managers in his agency became aware the next day and ordered an inspection Monday. The bridge was closed immediately.

“We closed the bridge in time,” he said. “We did not have a failure. That bridge is still standing and nobody has been injured. I’m happy to accept responsibility for this agency’s actions.”

Still, Bhatt said he would have preferred his agency to have moved more quickly to inspect and shut down the bridge.

The bridge, which normally carries an average of 90,000 vehicles daily around Wilmington, will be closed indefinitely as engineers figure out how to brace it. Most of the detoured traffic is on already-clogged I-95, which passes through downtown.

The federal government has pledged to pay 90 percent of the cost of permanent repairs and has already approved $2 million in emergency funds. The cost of fixing the bridge hasn’t been determined.

Engineers working with Delaware officials suspect that a massive mound of dirt dumped near the bridge, partly on the government’s property, might have caused the ground underneath the span to shift and four pairs of columns to tilt. The contractor who stored the dirt there is working with the state to remove it.

Officials said Friday that the weight of the dirt mound has been estimated at 50,000 tons. That’s equal to about 1,250 18-wheel tractor-trailers at the maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 lbs.

Officials also said Friday that tilt sensors placed on the bridge Monday have shown no additional significant movement.

Engineers have completed inspections of all eight affected columns and found cracking consistent with the lateral displacement of soil, in all the concrete footers. No corrosion was found in the tops of the underground steel piles anchored to the footers.

Agency consultants are reviewing design options to create a new foundation for the damaged section of the bridge, officials said.

Dave Charles, the geotechnical engineer who reported the problem last week, said he returned to the bridge on Tuesday and saw that the columns had shifted even farther.

Charles said after he and a colleague working on an unrelated project near the bridge noticed May 29 that it appeared to be tilting, he sent matter-of-fact emails with cellphone photographs about 6 p.m. that day to an employee of the Delaware transportation department’s bridge unit. Charles said the employee, whom he declined to name, acknowledged about 90 minutes later that he had received the emails.

“I think the person who received it took it seriously,” Charles said.

In his April 911 call, Allen is heard telling a dispatcher, “It appears to be an emergency. … The two road beds are lifting up opposing each other, and it doesn’t look right. Something’s wrong. … There may be something seriously wrong with that bridge.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Sondheim’s ‘Woods’ holiday showcase for Missouri Street Theatre

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Frankye Kelly ready to spread holiday cheer

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Celebrate the magic of Christmas

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Santas have busy week at schools

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Safe streets task force work nets 3

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

 
 
Solano College approves officers, meeting schedule

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

Longtime Suisun harbor master to retire

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Police arrest 2nd suspect in Fairfield credit union robbery

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
 
Local emergencies in Northern California counties after rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California’s top utility regulator defends record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
‘Pretty horrible’ scene; car slams into crowd

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Drunk man shot while entering wrong house

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
‘Prison Houdini’ set to make his 1st legal escape

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Russian sailors leaving France without warship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

European court rules obesity can be a disability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

.

Opinion

Another look at school bonds

By George Guynn Jr. | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

News of the day strikes a chord

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D8

 
Should I use Child Protective Services threat to get back rent?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D8

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Dec. 19-25, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Robin Williams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Craig Ferguson to end 10 years as host of ‘Late Late Show’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Eric Idle brings ‘Not the Messiah’ to Carnegie Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

.

Sports

A’s trade All-Star catcher Derek Norris to Padres

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
A’s acquire lefty De La Rosa from Arizona for cash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Raiders defense depleted by injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Harbaugh mum on reported offer from Michigan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

49ers’ Aldon Smith hopes to build off tough year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Column: Thaw in US-Cuba relations warms up MLB

By Jim Litke | From Page: B8

Rivera: Newton ‘probably’ will start vs. Browns

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Bears bench QB Jay Cutler for Clausen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Rodriguez boys open Les Curry Tournament with victory

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B11

 
.

Business

Roomiest Subaru Legacy debuts for 2015

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Dow industrials have their best day in three years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Ford expands drivers air bag recall nationwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Lisa Dee McHughes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dominic C. Scolaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Travis Curt Price

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Jennie Ponce Reyes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics