State transportation officials promised legislators Thursday that changes are coming in how the agency does highway construction business in light of the state Route 16 off ramp error.
Transportation Secretary Paul Hammond, Deputy Secretary Dave Dye and Olympic regional administrator Kevin Dayton, who oversees the Route 16 project outlined several local and statewide initiatives in their department to prevent similar mistakes statewide.
In their comments and questions, members of the state Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee made it clear they were disappointed in department officials and in not being told of the mistake until the media reported it.
Rep. Jeannie Darneille , D-Tacoma, who isn’t a committee member but attended the meeting, said she didn’t come to hear “mea culpas about communications.”
She said her concerns about the screw-up were those of her constituents: the cost of the mistake to taxpayers, possible delays in the project that have snarled traffic and questions about the wisdom of using in-house designs versus outsourcing project designs.
To make sure the project suffers no more mistakes, Hammond said there will be independent review of all alignments, design procedures will be revised and construction teams will get a larger role in design and plan reviews.
Among new communication protocols statewide, Hammond said, will be reinforced performance goals for all senior managers and communicators. Bi-weekly alerts will be distributed to the Legislature and the public about project problems and web alerts will be published monthly.
In addition, Hammond said, the state’s chief engineer will be notified of project problems within 24 hours of discovering them and there will be weekly follow-ups.
Dayton said the $164 million westbound project won’t be delayed because part of the eastbound off ramp had to be torn up and redesigned. A $6.7 million contingency fund will cover the cost, he said.