- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Legislative Audit Division is the latest to decline Washington County’s request to look into two bridges built without proper steel reinforcement against an engineer’s designs.

The county had asked the audit division to examine its spending on bridges after evidence of problems at the Harvey Dowell and Stonewall bridges surfaced in March, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1FtKmEw ) reported. But the audit division says the county doesn’t have documentation with enough detail in order for it to properly analyze its spending.

The attorney general, 4th Judicial Circuit prosecutor and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department also opted to not look into the bridges’ construction.

The problem in documentation is that the county doesn’t track its spending for each specific project, such as a bridge, which makes an audit of that project impossible, said state Sen. Uvalde Lindsey. He had first suggested the county ask for an audit into the county Road Department’s spending.

“It all goes into one pot, county road, and they get the bills and they pay them,” he said.

Lindsey said in a better system, the county would buy materials, put them in inventory, then specifically note when the material gets taken from inventory and for which project.

“They keep good county records, they pass all of their audits,” he said of the county, referring to annual government-wide audits by the audit division. “You just can’t tell if a project was improperly done.”

Issues with the bridges came to light earlier this year when County Judge Marilyn Edwards, who oversees the Road Department, placed a 3-ton limit on the Harvey Dowell bridge. She ordered workers to tear down the unfinished Stonewall and redo it under an engineering firm’s supervision.

She said Wednesday in a letter to the Quorum Court that she was waiting on transcripts from interviews conducted in a county investigation before making any changes at the Road Department.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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