Dependable Erection

Saturday, March 10, 2007

From the folks who brought you I-40 and other highway fiascos

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is unable to produce documentation showing that the materials it uses to build highways have been adequately tested, according to a financial audit conducted by State Auditor Les Merritt's office.

The report, released Thursday afternoon by the state auditor's office, recommended that the DOT enhance internal controls and monitor compliance with state regulations to ensure that testing information is accurately documented and that the required number of tests is conducted.

The auditor's findings come on the heels of a report detailing errors that contributed to a concrete failure on Interstate 40 in Durham that cost millions to repair. State Highway Administrator Len Sanderson resigned in November following the report.

The article, in this week's Triangle Business Journal, does go on to note that DOT "performed the required Roadway Quality Assurance tests on all but two of the 15 contracts reviewed." Which is somewhat at odds with the earlier paragraphs, which, to me at least, suggest that DOT was unable to show in writing that the RQAs had in fact been completed. Maybe the auditor's office took them at their word?

See, the problem (well, one of the problems) with the NCDOT is that their engineering staff is under the impression that they are the only folks in North Carolina capable of making decisions regarding traffic flow and other transportation needs. When any of the rabble has some ideas about how things might be safer or more environmentally benign, and has the temerity to make such a suggestion in public, NCDOT's response is always to point out that they have the expertise, and their decisions are in accord with some higher Transportation God standard that the little folk simply cannot comprehend.

That, of course, has been bullshit since day one.

Unfortunately, as Durham has learned over the past couple of years, until someone actually gets killed as a result of NCDOT's expertise, their decisions will stand.

Now we learn that they can't even follow their own documented procedures for building the kind of massive highway projects that they claim to be the best at.

I wish i were surprised.



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