When we find something critically wrong here at The Daily News, not only do we fix it, but we look for other errors that need to be fixed as well. It has been our experience that uncovering one major error always leads you down a path to bigger errors — errors that could have been caught had a proper process been followed. This fiasco with the Washington Way Bridge in Longview has led us to believe there might be more.
In November 2015, we wrote about footprints left in the Washington Way Bridge. If you remember, one of us was out on a morning run and discovered footprints all over the west end of the then recently-built Washington Way Bridge. That Friday we wrote about it.
“Footprints on the new bridge: We discovered the footprints on the Washington Way Bridge on our morning run last week. Multiple footprints. Whether it was intentional or an accident, these should have been discovered and fixed long before an editorial board member discovered it. Leaves us to wonder what else was missed during the construction.”
After that editorial appeared, we received angry emails and phone calls. One caller told us we were unfair to the person in charge of overseeing the bridge, that we were mean and should apologize. We respectfully declined, and ran the Letters to the Editor that came in after that — even letters that took us to task — claiming the bridge was inspected every day by both city of Longview staff and a consulting engineering firm.
Fast forward almost two years and we find out something else was missed during construction. In an August TDN article, it was reported the bridge has a sideways pitch on the sidewalks of 2 percent more than allowed by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
We sat in on some of the meetings with the city, parks department and engineers where sidewalk widths and lanes were discussed. Included were discussions about following the ADA.
We have questions.
Who was aware of the ADA requirements? Was that person involved with inspecting the drawings? If no one at city hall was aware of the ADA requirements, why not? Shouldn’t someone involved in the construction of such a massive project have a clear understanding of the disabilities act and everything that affects the building of the bridge?
In the plan for the bridge, was the correct slope in the drawings? If so, who was taking the measurements to see if the slope was followed before the bridge was finished? What exactly was inspected on a daily basis?
If the correct slope was not in the drawings, why not? How was the plan approved if it wasn’t correct? Who inspected the drawings to ensure all applicable laws were followed before the bridge construction was approved?
These are the types of things that, in our business, leads us to believe we may have only scratched the surface of the potential problems.
This isn’t the first time the city of Longview has found itself correcting egregious errors on a massive project. Longview’s water is a prime example.
In a TDN article about water from November 2014, Jeff Cameron, public works director for the city of Longview, said the city “didn’t anticipate there was going to be this much dissolving iron and manganese and that it would take this long to get (that) to stabilize.”
We questioned that statement back then and still question it today. Who wouldn’t realize that if water flows in one direction for 90 years, reversing that flow would cause significant issues?
Cameron went on to state the silica levels didn’t raise a concern for staff or their hired consultants. City engineer Amy Blain said the silica levels in Vancouver are almost identical to the silica levels in Longview.
“Not that they don’t deal with the spotting, but because they were already a groundwater source and dealing with harder water, it was accepted by their customers without the reaction that we have had from ours,” she is quoted in the article.
Did anyone go to Vancouver and test their water? Did anyone speak to any residents to see if they had complaints about the water quality?
What about Columbia Heights Road? Contractors have begun work on stabilizing the road, which slides every winter. What assurances do we have that plans for the stabilization of the road and the hillside are correct and will withstand another rain-soaked winter?
Taxpayers who foot the bill for these massive projects need confidence the city, and those hired by the city, are doing a good job.