VTrans inspects 15 bridges in southern Vermont after whistleblower report

This article by Bob Audette originally appeared Oct. 3 in the Brattleboro Reformer.

Even though there is a criminal investigation being conducted into the construction of 15 bridges in southern Vermont, the state’s chief highway engineer said there is no danger to the people who travel across those bridges every day.

“I can, with all integrity, say the traveling public is not at risk right now,” Wayne Symonds, chief engineer for the Agency of Transportation’s Highway Division, told the Reformer on Wednesday.All of the bridges being inspected were built or worked on by J.A. McDonald, a Lyndon Center construction firm that settled with the federal government for $270,000 on Sept. 28 for work performed on a bridge in Bristol.

“We learned about the issues on the Bristol bridge from a whistleblower,” Symonds said.

“[T]he settlement resolves allegations that [J.A. McDonald] employees intentionally altered critical bridge components such that the bridge no longer conformed to specified safety standards, and that JAM employees took affirmative steps to conceal such alterations from the Vermont Agency of Transportation,” states the press release. “As a result of the alleged cover-up, VTrans unwittingly paid JAM for deficient bridge work and in turn presented a number of false claims to the Federal Highway Administration for the reimbursement of the federal share of amounts paid to JAM.”

Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.

(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)

Image courtesy of Vermont Agency of Transportation