- A whistleblower said engineers have secretly replaced bolts on New York’s new Mario Cuomo Bridge to hide the faults from inspectors, NBC4NY reported Wednesday.
- The state’s attorney general is investigating the 60 failed bolts (out of more than a million on the entire bridge.)
- The Mario Cuomo Bridge, which cost $US3.98 billion, has been mired in controversy ever since it opened last year.
A small team of engineers worked under the cover of darkness to replace failing bolts on one of New York’s newest bridges,NBC4NY reported Wednesday.
Sixty bolts out of more than a million total are known to have failed on the newly opened Mario Cuomo Bridge, located on the Hudson River about 25 miles north of New York City.
An NBC4NY investigation revealed that more failed bolts may have been secretly repaired.
According to a safety inspector turned whistleblower, a handful of workers were covertly replacing broken bolts under the cover of darkness before safety inspections could take place, NBC4NY reported.
The New York attorney general’s office has been investigating the faulty bolts. The construction company that built the bridge said it’s cooperating and that its work is completely safe. One engineering expert told NBC there’s likely no chance of collapse – just inflated maintenance costs throughout the bridge’s lifespan.
In a statement to The New York Times, Tappan Zee Constructors said: “All bolt testing performed by multiple parties indicates there is not an issue with the bolts.”
“TZC has not been provided with, nor is it aware of, any information that is contrary to these bolt testing results,” it continued. “TZC has demonstrated a constant willingness to address any additional issues and will continue to do so.”
The issue could end up being similar to one which plagued the Bay Bridge across the San Francisco Bay, which cost an additional $US4.3 million to replace faulty anchors. The builder, in that case, avoided any legal punishment for the problems.
The Mario Cuomo Bridge, which replaced the 50-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge, has been mired in controversy ever since the idea was conceived. Critics were quick to attack Gov. Andrew Cuomo for renaming the new crossing after his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. Others said the opening of the $US3.98 billion bridge was intentionally sped up to happen before the primary race in which Cuomo defeated challenger Cynthia Nixon.
“Ninety-per cent of the time these things are tracked down and found not to be the big problem someone thought in the beginning,” Thomas Eager, an MIT engineer, told NBC4NY. “Ten per cent of the time it might end up being a big problem and then it really gets into who is the one who didn’t pay attention to what was going on.”
A New York State Thruway Authority spokesperson told the New York Times that “the bridge is completely safe for the travelling public.”
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