- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

ANNAPOLIS — A preliminary report on defective concrete decking on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge that will cost more than $7 million to repair said problems with concrete application may have contributed to extensive cracking.

The report, presented to the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee yesterday, said damaged portions of the old bridge decking were not removed adequately before paving began.

Manufacturer’s recommendations for preparing the old surface and industry standards for curing the microsilica concrete were not followed “in all instances,” the report said.

But the report by O’Connell & Lawrence, a consulting firm, does not assess the degree to which the problems contributed to the premature deterioration of about half the repaving conducted on the westbound span. That assessment will come in a final report.

“We don’t know if it was the material or the construction or both,” Kenneth J. O’Connell told members of the committee.

Maryland Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan said the cost of repairing the damaged concrete will be more than the $7 million spent putting it down, but didn’t know how much more.

The state will cover the initial cost of repairs, Mr. Flanagan said. In the meantime, the Maryland Transportation Authority will work with the state Attorney General’s Office to determine the degree to which the authority, the construction contractors and the engineering contractors are responsible for the pavement’s deterioration, he said.

Pittsfield, Maine-based Cianbro is the contractor for the bridge deck resurfacing project. The company issued no response yesterday regarding the O’Connell report.

But in a statement issued Friday, company Vice President Mike Hart said Cianbro “has performed all work per the specifications of the contract.”

Construction inspectors first noticed isolated cracking in the deck 14 months ago. By spring, extensive cracking appeared in the center and left lanes.

When asked why legislative committees that oversee transportation funding weren’t told earlier about the pavement, Mr. Flanagan said he was never notified by the authority and learned about the problems in a telephone call from a reporter.

Thomas Osborne resigned as executive secretary of the authority Monday, saying he wanted the public to have full confidence in an objective and open review of what went wrong.

The report from O’Connell recommended that repaving be done with a latex-modified concrete instead of the microsilica mix used in the project that began January 2002. Mr. Flanagan said microsilica was used because it cures more quickly at lower temperatures than other forms of concrete, and the state did not schedule work in the summer, when traffic is at its heaviest.

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