For Immediate Release: 03/08/21
STATEMENT FROM PROJECT DIRECTOR JAMEY BARBAS, PE ON THE TIMES UNION STORY REGARDING THE GOV. MARIO M. CUOMO BRIDGE
In Sunday’s story, “Broken bolts: Structural problems on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge were covered up,” the Times Union makes unfortunate, misleading, and erroneous statements that irresponsibly portrays an alarming and unsafe situation — one which is certainly not the case. First and foremost, the bridge has been and continues to be safe for the traveling public.
The article also implies that the Thruway Authority tried to cover up this issue or did not act in a timely manner. Upon learning of the allegations of bolt failures in 2016, not only did the Thruway Authority immediately inform the Inspector General, we spent more than one million dollars and engaged world-renowned subject matter experts, developed a testing program, conducted extensive studies, and tested well over five hundred bolts. The tests confirmed that the bolts met or exceeded the requirements set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The very small number of bolts that were broken is not a cause for safety concern on such a large bridge consisting of more than one million bolts. It is important to note that there is no concern of hydrogen embrittlement. Additionally, all bolts tested were coated in Geomet, as required. None were hot-dipped galvanized. All experts agree that the steel is not defective. Prior to opening the bridge in August 2017, the experts concluded that the safety of the bridge was in no way compromised.
In addition to the extensive testing and analysis already performed, the entire structure is routinely inspected and monitored, and during our most recent biennial inspection, we found no additional bolt failures of concern. These inspection results match the findings of our testing program which concluded that future bolt failures, if any, will be extremely rare and inconsequential.
To be clear, the massive bolted steel plate connections on the girders are not in any danger of failing and the bridge is safe. A typical bolted connection has more than 500 bolts. The built-in redundancy of the bridge system allays any potential concerns that a failure would occur.
To incite a lack of confidence in the traveling public is just reckless, irresponsible and unsound journalism. Public safety is our highest priority and shame on the Times Union for their inaccurate assertions and mischaracterizations.
As much as we would like to share more information, we are unable to discuss it further at this time.