More problems found with troubled 520 bridge project

SEATTLE -- There's more trouble for one of the big concrete pontoons destined to hold up the new 520 floating bridge.

A Problem Solvers investigation {A href=""}first revealed extensive cracks and leaks in those massive pontoons, and on Wednesday the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that six pillars on top of a key pontoon will have to be completely torn out and rebuilt due to construction errors.

Pontoon W is now sitting at the Manson Construction dock on the Duwamish, waiting for yet another round of repairs. It just finished undergoing extensive repairs in a Harbor Island dry dock to fix major cracks.

WSDOT officials blamed those problems on a design flaw made by their own engineers. Now contractor Kiewit admits it's responsible for construction issues that allowed rebar cages forming the columns on top of Pontoon W to shift.

"Kiewit identified early on that they had issues with the methods that they employed. This last Friday they informed us that they intended to remove the columns and replace them," said 520 project manager Julie Meredith.

Meredith briefed the Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee on the status of the bridge construction, which is already behind schedule and is now slated to be completed in late 2015 or early 2016.

With all potential change orders topping $378 million, the project will have already exhausted its contingency fund. But Meredith said Kiewit, not taxpayers, will be responsible for the new repair costs.

"This will be done at their expense and on their time," she said. "It'll take another 4 to 8 weeks."

WSDOT officials say those 4 to 8 weeks of additional repairs should not add any more delays to the bridge construction.