Sources: WSDOT workers to be disciplined over 520 errors

SEATTLE -- The ongoing design and oversight problems on the new 520 Bridge project have caused unprecedented fall out at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The KOMO 4 Problem Solvers have discovered that more than a dozen WSDOT workers -- most of them top managers -- have received disciplinary letters stemming from errors on the bridge project.

Those errors have already cost state taxpayers more than $100 million.

The letters went out to top managers across all parts of the 520 Bridge program, including those at WSDOT headquarters in Olympia, according to sources.

When WSDOT announced the results of an internal review of cracking and leaking problems with pontoons destined to hold up the new 520 bridge, the primary focus was on the design by state engineers.

And that's where former Secretary Paula Hammond appeared to indicate the promised discipline would fall hardest.

"We don't expect that we're going to have a flaw in something that we are normally very good at," Hammond said.

But the review also points to significant management errors with the new bridge, and the discipline falls across all levels of the bridge project.

At least 13 workers were given disciplinary letters -- ranging from construction managers who oversaw the pontoons in Aberdeen to managers of the entire project.

Last week Inslee promised to follow through on the disciplinary process.

"We'll be looking at new ways to make sure we don't have a failure of performance again at Department of Transportation," he said.

The first step is that each employee must be notified of the charged against them. Then, a pre-discipline hearing will be scheduled.

WSDOT officials previously said they want the process completed by April 12, at which point the employees will have the right to appeal any discipline decisions.

"So while we're going through this process there's a period where we actually cannot share some of the personnel issues with you or anyone else while that process is going on," Inslee said.

Wednesday was the first day for the new Transportation Secretary. Her office won't comment on the disciplinary letters.

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