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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:28 am 
Lets just say it's worse than I was led to believe concerning why Pillar 4's steel Sole Plates were not fixed and lies and deceit were used by the DOT inspector and supervisor and IHC to cover it up.

After giving me the run-around, Brian Torres, NM DOT Supervisor for District 1, our district, always politely evasive, finally just stopped answering my calls and returning my calls. For our conversation earlier this week I used a friends cell and he answered and said maybe the engineers report would be here Friday the 18th, Torres never answered my calls Friday, so I contacted the head DOT bridge engineer for all bridges in District 1 and he was willing to talk, and what a story he told. Earl Franks said the builder (IHC) is expected to initiate and pay for an engineering study to determine whether the bridge is safe or will need to be closed and torn down at least the north end where Pillar 4 and the north abutment are located.

Notice in the photo above showing 2 Sole Plates sitting atop a pillar (not pillar 4) with each holding the end of a girder, the plate on the right, to the south or high end of the bridge is placed correctly but the one on the left is turned around backward and this turning (fixing) of the left plate supposably was done on Pillars 1 through 3, then I was first told they wouldn't be fixing Pillar 4 then I was told (lied to) by the DOT onsite inspector, the DOT district supervisor and IHC that they were fixed but I knew better. (Note to self: I should revisit the spot and see if the plate is now correct). But problems on Pillar 4 (not fixed) are much more complex and far reaching.

Pillar 4: look at the photo again and visualize the plate on the right placed on the left and the left one placed on the right; the girders, all 10 of them sitting on the left plate were then higher than the 10 girders on the right as they approached the low north end of the bridge. To compensate for the resulting unevenness of the top of the girders the rebar and concrete decking was made thinner than specs required over the left girders and thicker than specs over the right girders and it is unknown whether the thinner concrete road surface on the left had some rebar eliminated or moved closer together, either way it undermines the integrity and strength of the concrete and, conversely if the thicker roadway concrete had rebar spaced further apart which again undermines the integrity and strength of the concrete. If the girders are jacked up and the plates set properly the whole roadway (decking) over the 4th and 5th span (from the 3rd Pillar over the 4th pillar to the north abutment will have to be removed and redone resulting in a total bridge closure. But that's not all:

There is something not right about the concrete road surface that requires IHC to return again (is this the 5th time?) and seal the concrete. Franks said there were a number of materials that could be used but thought IHC would choose the most affordable, an Epoxy sealer.

Nobody could answer my question as to whether IHC will contract an outside engineering firm or send an "In-house" engineer to "rubber stamp" the problems but Franks "assumed" they would get an independent firm to make the report.

Regardless who makes a determination that the bridge is "probably safe" the DOT will declare the bridge to be "non-conforming" and IHC will be paid less than the original agreement. Some already speculate that IHC has lost money on the project some time back. The problem with IHC is compounded in that they have left New Mexico and relocated in Colorado making for slow responses to previous fixes.

Some more interesting factoids from my interview Friday:
This bridge is one of the most heavily salted road surfaces during the winter resulting in the concrete being so permeated with chloride that it could not be patched because the concrete was deteriorating so much. Some may remember my photos from 3 or 4 years ago showing these hole through which you could see the ground 50 feet below.

In 2003 this bridge was added to the DOT's must do list but the roads and bridges in NM were in such disrepair that it took 9 years until 2012 before the first public meeting was held to propose that the bridge could be rebuilt if the money could be found.

 Author: n2ic
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:54 pm 
Thanks for the update, John.

Just to be clear, Mr. Franks is the good guy at the DOT ?

The sole plates are essentially shims, to fill in the gap between the level, horizontal pillar and the sloping girders. Is that the correct way to visualize that ?

As #45 might say, "who knew building a bridge could be so difficult ?"


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