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A Hummel Report Investigation

Who’s Inspecting the Inspectors?

With the public debate focused on how to pay for much-needed repairs to Rhode Island’s deteriorating bridges, this week we begin a two-part series on how taxpayer money is being spent on existing projects. The $30-million Apponaug Circulator project is on time and on budget, but is it being built to specification? One Warwick resident who is a veteran of the construction industry says no and asks the question: Where are the project’s inspectors? Jim Hummel sits down with the director of Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation for his take on this project - and larger changes he’s making at the D.O.T.

Click here to view addition excerpts of Jim's interview with Peter Alviti.

SCRIPT

If you have to travel through Apponaug these days, let’s just say: you’re in for a challenge.
For more than a year crews have been working on a $30-million project aimed at realigning¬† what has traditionally been one of Rhode Island’s more difficult traffic patterns to navigate.
Cote: ``It’s actually producing a dangerous situation because if you don’t want to destroy your car you’ll transit the Apponaug Circular project very cautiously.’’
Rob Cote lives 5 minutes from the Apponaug Circulator and travels through it several times a day. For 25 years Cote had worked throughout New England in the construction industry as a quality assurance manager. While he specializes in high-rise buildings and structural steel he also knows inside-out the Blue Book -¬† Rhode Island DOT’s Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Design.
Cote: ``The field conditions would suggest that clearly the code is not being followed.’’
Cote said he first noticed a lack of dust mitigation at the beginning of the project - this car dealership’s inventory was covered every day with a thick layer of dust, so much so that the owner had to hire someone to wash the cars every day.
Cote’s scrutiny then extended to the way crews were filling trenches that have been cut and refilled around the circulator.
Cote: ``These codes are very, very simple and clear understanding English. When you read certain specifications of the code and you go out in the field and you look at the field condition, it’s clearly¬† obvious that the code was not followed. And what becomes really problematic is that when you have two layers of oversight minimum, possibly three layers of oversight - from the contractor’s quality personnel, to the state D.O.T. field quality assurance inspectors and the state D.O.T. engineers it begs the question and it’s reasonable to ask the question: Why does the road look like that when you have three levels of oversight? Where clearly it’s contrary to what‘s required in the code.’’

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