Sunday, October 01, 2006

So Exactly What Does The CTDOT Do?

The Courant is reporting today that the newly paved reconstructed part of of I-84 in the 31/2-mile segment between I-691 in Cheshire and Exit 25-A in Waterbury, is lined with defective catch basins.
Some of the drains lead nowhere; others are filled with debris; still others appear to have been connected with substandard, cracked and leaking pipe, according to a state review and outside sources familiar with the project.(Courant)
State transportation officials became suspicious last spring, they hired an engineering firm to inspect the drains.
About 300 catch basins were designed into the project. About 280 had been reinspected as of last week, Gruhn said. Of those, about 270 need further work. Preliminary indications are that perhaps as many as 100 will require significant reconstruction, Gruhn said, including an undetermined number that now lie beneath permanently paved, completed sections of the roadway.

"About a third of them, roughly, require some kind of additional work," Gruhn said. "Some of that may be relatively simple once we get in there. But until we actually get in, remove the top of the basin and determine how the basin was constructed, it's very difficult to know exactly what the extent of those repairs will be. (Courant)
It is quite a stunning amount of rework. One could almost say this is a clear cut example of the lack of effort by the CTDOT, but in the cozy world of consultants that's not what gets put into the report.
So far, no one is accepting responsibility for the problems. Gruhn said he has found nothing to suggest that state transportation employees share any responsibility.

"At this point we have nothing to indicate that," Gruhn said. "In fact, knowing some of the people involved from our staff, I would be very surprised."

Because of the volume of work overseen by the state transportation department, Gruhn said, it is forced to rely heavily on private engineers for inspections. (Courant)
Someone made the decision to hire these particular inspectors and construction firms, so if it wasn't the CTDOT then who? And why shouldn't the CTDOT be held accountable for the failings of its hired help?

Recently, The Hour, chided the CTDOT for the deplorable conditions that Connecticut Light and Power left the stretch of route 7 it dug up in order to bury powerlines. The road had been recently repaved, but after CLP came through, ruts and uneven patchwork dot the road. CLP was required to restore the road to the same condition. Even elementary school children would not have approved the road as returned to the original state.
That brings us to another Route 7 topic — that part of it in Norwalk and northward where utility work has left a decent road with a less-than-desirable roadbed that jars commuters as they bounce their way over the patchwork paving.

The original plan was that the road would be paved extensively, restoring it to its original state.

Anyone who has driven the road can attest that the repairs fall far short of the mark. What puzzles us is how DOT can just accede to Connecticut Light & Power Co.’s position that the repaving isn’t needed. We put up with the inconvenience because we know the work was needed to bring more electricity to this power-starved area. We did expect,however,that the utility would live up to its word and properly restore the road in Norwalk, a road that was only repaved a few years ago. (The Hour, Editorial 9/29/06)
It's a rankling observation that if time after time substandard, incomplete or delayed work is the caliber of an agency's output, then something is seriously wrong. No one should accept CTDOT's excuse that they didn't know the work wasn't done correctly. It is their job to know.

The Hartford Courant, The Mess Runs Deep, by EDMUND H. MAHONY, 10/1/06.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Turf, you wonder why we dont share you ardor to raise taxes to shovel more money at these people.

By the way, this project was in the center of Lite Rock Chris Murphy's state senate district. He ignored the whole thing after the groundbreaking. Hasn't said one word one about it. This isn;t the only problem. They screwed up an overpass in Souhtington with warped sight lines and DeFelice hung the Cheshire cops out to dry paying overtime invoices. But never mind, the local state senator is off to reform the intel services. Why bother exercising his own oversight over taxpayer dollars when you can try and be a big shot in DC?

turfgrrl said...

anonymous 6:55--I'm not sure that the state senate has oversight of the CTDOT, but go ahead and enlighten me. Who made the decision to hire DeFelice in the first place?

Anonymous said...

I dunno, but I'd be willing to bet the local state senator didn;t even know they had the contract

Maybe we should get elected officials out of the business of photo op government

Anonymous said...

Senator Murphy serves on this commitee, which might be concerned how money is spent

Appropriations Committee
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Appropriations Committee is one of the joint standing committees of the Connecticut General Assembly. It is composed of 55 members - 12 Senators and 43 Representatives.
The committee has cognizance of all matters relating to appropriations and the budgets of state agencies. Other issues under the committee's jurisdiction include matters relating to state employees' salaries, benefits and retirement, teachers' retirement and veterans' pensions and collective bargaining agreements and arbitration awards for all state employees.

palo alto east said...

The DOT oversees all sorts of projects. Perhaps we should require continuing education programs for these people. I am assuming the engineer standards change from time to time and that safety standards do as well. If they are already doing that then we should fire those responsible for allowing substandard work to be paid for by tax dollars. Not having enough inspectors is not an acceptable excuse. If we can't afford to hire more inspectors through the state budget then those funds should be included in project RFQs and the contractors would then be underwriting the expense of the state hiring additional inspectors.

Mr X said...

The DOT Highway workers usually nothing. Every time I see them they are leaning on a shovel or bull***ting with fellow co workers must be a great job to have make a good wage and stand around and do little or nothing to get it.

Anonymous said...

I think the folks at the "Taj Mahal on the Turnpike" are the bigger problem. They caused Route 42 in Cheshire to be repaved, dug up this summer, and will have it redone again in 2008.

Whatta waste!

bluecoat said...

Blaming it on Murphy instead of the executive branch is a stretch for me. There is no question that the general assembly - specifically the joint Transportation Committeee that also has Republicans on it - should oversee ConnDOT (the largest state agency) but they are part time and anyway the big deal with Rell and the legislators of both stripes is that they passed big billion dollar funding bills to give the same people - ConnDOT - more to do. Turffgrrrl and I have had this conversattion before. There is absolutley no question that ConnDOT is the most incompetently run DOT in the country and Rell kept Rowland hack, Stephen Korta, in place at the top untill recently only to replace him with a LtCol from the state police who knows nothing about running an engineering/construction/maintenance shop and has a prior history himself of being an administrative f--kup at CSP. the rank and file at ConnDOt are OK/ nothing special but the leadership are nothing but a bunch of hacks that came up throught the ranks under Rowland's culture of incompetenace - if you're corrupt it never makes sense to put smart people around you. ConnDOT needs new professional leadership not a crony state cop running it.

Great post truffgrrrl.

Anonymous said...

sorry blue, when you raise taxes to pay for a transportation project and boast about this project in your taxpayer funded newsletter the least you can do is pay some attention as to how the added tax money is spent,

naw geopolitics is more interesting than the job you were hired to do

bluecoat said...

gotcha 2:47; Jodi has nothing to do with the problems.

bluecoat said...

naw geopolitics is more interesting that the job you were hired to do says my obnoxious anon monitor at 2:47

so this is to to the blog hosts:: that sure sounds like I am being called a staffer and I thought that was against the rules - and besides that it ain't true, this is a hobby and I have no political affiliation but it appears 2;47 may not be all that pur not that i care; I'll say agin that I think most of the incumbent elected and appointed officials in Hartford, regardless of their stripes or branch served, are a bunch of f--kups.

Anonymous said...

blue, and I see you don't let McKinney off the hook on Fairfield train station, now do you?

Same situation, Except I think McKinney does pay attention to his district...since he is a real native, not a transient district shopper born elsewhere

Anonymous said...

no blue, unless you are Chris Murphy I'm not blaming you ...then again you have a point that Murphy may have treated the state senate as a hobby

bluecoat said...

McKinney f--ked up on the Fairfield Train station just like Shays, Dodd, Leiberman, Drew, Flatto, Stone, Tymniak, Metsopolis, Audley, Durrell and Dickman did - is that what you were looking for? did I miss anybody? Oh yeah, Rwoland and Rell and Fabrizi and even Ganim.. It's ashame that Republicans can be so intellectually dishonest as 3:01 and 3:09 - and apparently get paid for it too.

Anonymous said...

1. i;m not getting paid
2. I presume insulting every elected official in your county is your definition of "intellectual honesty"

"rriiight..."

If Chris Murphy can't protect his consituents in the state senate why promote him to Congress?

Riddle me that?

bluecoat said...

So if we take anons putting the blame solely on the legislator who covers the territory wherein the Interstate Highway work occurs - which makes no sense if one understands the purpose of an Interstate - then Murphy is 20% responsible for the problem while Nancy Johnson is 80% responsible since the funding is 20/80 state federal. Republican volunteers can be so Gallo/Harris simple.

turfgrrl said...

I don't see how the oversight of of the day to day operations falls under the state legislature. It is the responsibility of CTDOT management. Presumably they hire the outside contractors to perform the work, and implement whatever process in assessing how and if work gets done.

Anonymous said...

The several early retirement plans and the Rowland layoffs decimated the engineering area and other areas of DOT. OPM has dragged its feet over several years and have not been approving any engineering hires (until just recently). You ever wonder why the roads are so bad during the winter it is because there are fewer than 80% of the crews available than 15 years ago. I am not saying DOT doesn't have some blame but they also have had the people resources and leadership needed to do jobs right. All the contract restrictions in the name of clean government makes it hard to hire qualified outside engineers -- they ones that can get other work (read the good ones) don't want to bother with the state's red tape.

Anonymous said...

BC, no earmarks from DC, maintainance and construction is a state gig. CTDOT just gets its check from USDOT.

How it was wasted is a state deal.

Trying to bring Nancy to the party is a lapse of logic. For no other reason than I don;t recall her taking credit for this when they started. Murphy did and then skulked away

GMR said...

It's interesting to compare road building here versus in Germany (where I lived a while ago).

In Germany, there are a few large construction companies that build roads. In the US, it tends to be smaller, local companies.

In Germany, the companies that build the roads have to do all repairs for free for the next fifty years. In the US, liability often stops the day the construction is done. In Germany, therefore, they take a lot of care to build the roads right: they make sure that there's not going to be frost heaves, the drainage works, etc. And the construction companies charge a lot more to build the roads than the companies do here.

Germany has very strict rules on how sharp a curve can be on the autobahn, or how steep a hill can be. There are as a result few places that could be called a "mixing bowl". In the US, we often build a road down a hill and back up the next hill, in Germany, bridges often span dry land.

The result of all these differences? Well, German roads are a lot better. Better cared for, no sharp turns on the autobahn or sharp grades (for the most part, although certain terrain makes this impossible). Germany of course has no speed limits on its autobahns, and you need good roads if you are going to have no speed limits. I can't imagine driving I-95 at 120 mph, even if there were no cars on the highway.

Of course, these über-good Autobahns cost a lot of money to build, and German gasoline taxes are much higher than here. Also, despite the great roads, Germans can still have spectacular chain accidents, especially during rain. When I lived in Germany, I'd routinely hear on the radio about 50 or 60 car accidents. When you're driving 150 mph, it takes a lot of pavement to stop.

Germany also has a lot of other rules that wouldn't work here: for the most part, the only trucks allowed on the autobahn during certain weekends are trucks carrying perishable items.

Anonymous said...

Metro-North, in association with a private company (and without CDOT interference) rebuilt a draw bridge in Bridgeport about 10 years ago and came in ahead of schedule and under-budget. CDOT, out of embarassment now does not let Metro-North perform any major construction projects on their own anymore.

My father once said its amazing that those same "geniuses" at the DOT manage to get dressed in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Is there nothing bluecoat is not an expert on? Truly, we are in the presence of genius.

bluecoat said...

Turrffgrrl; I agree the legislature shouldn't and can't oversee day to day operations; I was dealing with the anonymous who likes to twist things into the absurd - as he suggests Nancy Johnson, as head od Ways and means, somehow doesn't care about how federal funds are spent.; the Transportation Committee does, however, have general oversight responsibility but if the leaders (Democrats) called for a legislative investigation on this the Republicans would accuse them of conducting a witch hunt for political purposes while Jodi would BE NICE and tell evryone to cooperate figuring they'd never get to the bottom of it anyway - sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

Good thing our resident genius bluecoat would never twist things into the absurd, or post anything like this: Employees should definitley work right next to their job; Metro-North should be shut down and all the NYC commuters who live in their affordable Fairfield County homes should move to the Upper East Side.

bluecoat said...

I was being facetious in the context of another thread anonymous.

bluecoat said...

It never takes Jodi long to order an investigation after one of her Commisoners screws up but no heads ever roll:I-84 Project To Be Audited
`Stunning' Failures Lead Rell To Order Review
October 3, 2006
By EDMUND H. MAHONY, Courant Staff Writer

FrankS said...

Must reads for the DeStefano campaigns should be

CT DOT Waste

Tomasso/Maguire Connection

bluecoat said...

actually GMR, there are a number of very large contractors that build roads around the country including in the Northeast - but CT doesn't use them preferring to go with comapnies with small capitilizations that often go bankrupt during the job necessitating the bond company route to finish tht ejob; the competence of ConnDOT sucks alll the way around and Jodi's crew ain't with a clue on how to fix it.