Judge rules WSDOT must turn over 520 Bridge documents

SEATTLE -- A judge on Thursday ordered the Washington Department of Transportation to turn over key documents involving the new 520 Bridge.

An investigation revealed problems with leaks and cracks in pontoons on the new 520 Bridge, and the Problem Solvers wanted to know how much taxpayers will have to pay for construction delays and pontoon repairs.

No one at WSDOT will answer that question, saying the costs are subject to negotiation with the contractor, Kiewit.

The Problem Solvers used public records laws to get those documents, but all the information about repair and delay costs was blacked out.

On Thursday, KOMO's attorney argued the 520 Bridge construction is an important project that the citizens have a right to know about.

"We have this huge project being built that's already got problems, that's already behind, that has clearly identified risks and somehow or other the public isn't supposed to know that there's a train wreck coming?" said attorney Judy Endejan.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Lockwood argued that handing over the documents would "adversely impact the department's ability to get the best cost for the public if this information were made public."

In the end, judge Judy Ramseyer ruled that the state did not meet its burden of proof and that the records KOMO is asking for are more "weekly status updates" than part of any contractor negotiations.

"The burden is on the state, and it's a heavy burden," Ramseyer said.

The state has two weeks to decide if it will appeal the decision.
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