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WisDOT adds structural checks for bridge plans

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is ratcheting up efforts to prevent engineering errors on bridge projects.  The state is hiring consultants to check plans prepared by engineering companies and is designating a three-member team of state employees to review structural designs full time, said David Genson, WisDOT consultant review, contracting and hydraulics unit supervisor.  He said the changes are not prompted by past mistakes.  "I am not aware of any problems we are having at this point," he said. "We are just trying to focus the energies of a group."  WisDOT requires engineering consultants follow specific steps to double-check bridge plans for errors and verify that structures are designed to handle enough weight. Companies must submit written plans documenting quality-control programs by Sept. 1. (File Photo by John Krejci)

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is hiring consultants to check plans prepared by engineering companies for bridge projects, such as the ongoing one at the Zoo Interchange (above) in Milwaukee. (File Photo by John Krejci)

By Sean Ryan

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is ratcheting up efforts to prevent engineering errors on bridge projects.

The state is hiring consultants to check plans prepared by engineering companies and is designating a three-member team of state employees to review structural designs full time, said David Genson, WisDOT consultant review, contracting and hydraulics unit supervisor.

He said the changes are not prompted by past mistakes.

“I am not aware of any problems we are having at this point,” he said. “We are just trying to focus the energies of a group.”

WisDOT requires engineering consultants follow specific steps to double-check bridge plans for errors and verify that structures are designed to handle enough weight. Companies must submit written plans documenting quality-control programs by Sept. 1.

“We’re just asking for a copy of what they do,” Genson said, “so we know what procedures they are following.”

He said WisDOT engineers also are asking consultants to submit final structural plans two months before submitting final plans, specifications and estimates for entire projects. The 60-day window gives WisDOT more time to review the accuracy of structural plans, he said, and improve internal scheduling so the department can release projects for bid on schedule.

“I guess we in the past have been trying to live with a month,” he said, “and in some cases less than that.”

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