West Dublin BART station opening delayed

August 10, 2009 7:05:41 PM PDT
At a time when BART is focused on cutting costs and trimming millions from its budget, it is now dealing with a multi-million dollar mistake. The problem centers around the construction of some bridges, designed to take passengers to and from the new West Dublin BART station.

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It's a bridge, that's going nowhere. At least not anywhere near the new West Dublin BART station. It, and another just like it, are designed to go from the new station in the center of Interstate 580 across freeway lanes to a parking lot on one side and a retail area on the other. But according to Caltrans and BART, the company that built the massive steel structures did so with an inferior welding job.

"The problem is they didn't build them to BART standards, that's what we paid them to do, and that's not what they did," said Chief BART Spokesman Linton Johnson.

The bad welds were first discovered in June 2008. Now, after a year of study, BART has concluded it's cheaper to build new bridges rather than fix the old ones.

In a written statement, the company that built the bridges -- San Leandro's Olson Steel -- told ABC7 they believe their welding work met all of BART's contract specifications and was even approved by an independent inspector. Nonetheless, BART's decided to scrap the structures and start over.

Despite the welding problems with the first set of bridges, the same company, Olson Steel, will build the new set. This time, BART plans to monitor Olson's work, to ensure good welds. Each bridge costs about $1 million to construct.

"We're hoping that we can work this out where the taxpayers and riders don't have to pick up the cost. I mean, ultimately the people who constructed it didn't meet BART standards," said Johnson.

Whoever pays, the faulty welding put the station project back six months to a year. Rather than opening next spring, the new station and its 1,200 parking spaces will likely sit empty, well into 2011.

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