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Senator wants construction of new bridge investigated

California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier has publically criticized the construction of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and asked for a criminal investigation to be conducted. The senator claims that the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, charged taxpayers $6.5 billion for the construction of a substandard bridge that was built in part by a Chinese firm.

According to DeSaulnier, how Caltrans handled possible flaws in the bridge may have violated construction laws. In June, a California newspaper conducted an investigation into the construction of the bridge that allegedly determined Caltrans had accepted cracked and potentially dangerous work from a Chinese fabricator. The possibly defective parts of the bridge include most of the roadway and tower.

The director for Caltrans said that he is confident about the safety of the bridge and looks forward to talking about the bridge at a Senate hearing. Furthermore, he has stated that he believes the bridge will remain usable for 150 years. DeSaulnier says that the public cannot blindly accept reassurances from Caltrans after the bridge construction cost $5 billion more than what was budgeted. He says that the public should know what they paid for and how much the bridge will cost to maintain in the future.

Defective construction of a bridge can potentially result in workers and bystanders being injured while the project is underway. In the future, people who use the bridge or work to maintain it could also be at risk. If the construction problems were either known or ignored by the people responsible for the project, those overseers may be held liable when someone is injured. An attorney might be able to help an injured client file a claim against the liable parties and seek compensation for medical expenses.

The Sacramento Bee, "State senator calls for criminal probe of Bay Bridge construction problems", Charles Piller, July 27, 2014

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