An investigation into the collapse of a steel-reinforced concrete bridge-support beam June 9 at the Bell Road and Grand Avenue interchange project determined that the girder itself was not faulty.
Following nearly a month’s delay, the Industrial Commission of Arizona discussed the Arizona had a hearing for the three primary companies involved on site that day, based on findings of the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation of the incident.
“Basically what they found is it wasn’t the girder that failed. It was the pad the girder was resting on and the plate at the bottom of the girder that combined to cause an unstable environment,” said Bob Charles, Arizona OSHA division spokesman. “It was kind of a perfect storm according to them.”
San Diego-based Coffman Specialties Inc. is the project’s general contractor. Encon Arizona, LLC dba Tpac provides the precast concrete products.
All three companies investigated were cited and assessed a penalty and all three companies plan to contest their citation. The companies were cited for not preventing the overturning and collapse of the precast structure girders — the girders were not adequately supported until the permanent connections were completed.
Prior to the discussion, counsel for Coffman Specialties and counsel for Encon Arizona both indicated that the companies planned to contest their citation.
The industrial commission approved the proposed $5,000 penalties for both those companies.
More discussion and disagreement took place Oct. 20 regarding H.K.B. dba Southwest Industrial Rigging, the subcontractor that provides crane services on the project.
Representatives of Southwest Industrial Rigging said the company did not think it should be fined the same amount, since their workers dropped the girder when they were told.
Commissioner Scott LeMarr took up this argument and moved to approve the citation and punishment for the other two companies, but not Southwest Industrial Rigging.
He did not find any support for this change, but after discussion, other commissioners made a motion to reduce the penalty to $3,000. Commissioners Dale Schulz, Joseph Hennelly and Robin Orchard voted in favor of this smaller fine with Mr. LeMarr still voting against.
On an upbeat note, the worker injured during the girder collapse and airlifted away in critical condition spoke at the Oct. 20 meeting. Todd O’Lauglin, 26, is recuperating and said he does not remember the incident.
Work resumed on the Bell Road bridge nearly a month later, on July 5. ADOT’s $41.9 million project to construct the interchange was knocked back by the accident.
The project will still meet its target dates, with reopening of Bell Road slated for Nov. 22, two days before Thanksgiving and the entire project planned to wrap before spring training begins.