Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

Tag: offramp

July
16th

OFFRAMP: Costly error was avoidable

As a professional civil engineer, I feel compelled to point out something no one else is asking concerning the state Route 16 debacle.

The real question is not about the engineering mistake, or why the state Department of Transportation kept quiet about it. The real question is why the conflicting ramps were constructed.

I would be amazed if the surveyors did not notice the grade conflict before anything was actually built. The contractor was allowed to build according to faulty plans when it must have been plainly apparent early on that there was a serious problem in the design.

The

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July
16th

GOVERNMENT: Lack of accountability baffling

Two articles on Friday (“Report details costly SR16 error” and “City, EPA agree on $525,000 in penalties”) address wrongdoing by governmental agencies: the state Department of Transportation for the botched job on the Sprague Avenue offramp and the City of Tacoma Waste Management division for emissions from recycled refrigerators over a three-year period.

The former example will cost taxpayers approximately $900,000 in repair funds. The latter will cost not only the $525,000 in fines exacted by Environmental Protection Agency but an “atonement” for the city’s errors in the amount of $300,000 for improvements to reduce air pollution from its operations.

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July
12th

OFFRAMP: DOT again manages to mismanage

Over the past year, the state Department of Transportation has publicly embarrassed itself twice.

First, there is the Point Defiance rail bypass project, now undergoing further study, and recently the Sprague Avenue interchange off state Route 16. In neither instance has the agency’s management been able to admit error nor grasp the concept that the citizens would like an open, transparent and accountable government.

The bypass project failed to adequately address traffic, safety and noise concerns and didn’t credibly explain why the existing route was inadequate. The Sprague offramp had a major design error from lack of internal communication, which

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July
12th

OFFRAMP: Don’t throw good money after bad

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen wants to launch a full investigation over the wrongly placed freeway ramp on state Route 16 (TNT, 7-9). Good idea, senator; let’s turn a $1 million mistake into a $3 million mistake by paying lots of people to tell us what we already know.

Jobs of this size have contingency plans for cost overruns. It’s too bad they had to use it for a mistake.

I don’t want to see all that extra money spent on an investigation when one person could probably figure it out in a day with today’s technology. Especially with so many

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July
9th

OFFRAMP: Yes, there is someone to blame

Sounding like an air-headed teenager, Paula Hammond, Department of Transportation Chief, said, “That’s bad on me.” Tearing down the eastbound offramp is costing taxpayers $890,000. Not only was there no oversight between the eastbound and westbound crews, but the agency was not straight about the problem.

Hammond said that a review was underway to determine what went wrong. Give me a break! What went wrong was that Hammond didn’t oversee the project, didn’t inform the House and Senate transportation committees, issued an inadequate and evasive statement in December, and “Totally forgot about it” in a conference with The News

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July
9th

OFFRAMP: DOT’s Hammond should resign

Re: “Haugen seeks viaduct query” (TNT, 7-9).

State Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond not only did not mention the state Route 16 offramp blunder during an earlier interview with The News Tribune but also failed to inform the state Senate Transportation Committee chair of the blunder. She had to read about it in the papers.

Communication up and down any department is crucial for it to succeed. Communication is a key responsibility of the department head. It seems Hammond has not learned this.

She also has not publicly taken full responsibility for the mistake her department made while her

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July
9th

OFFRAMP: WSDOT lacks leadership

The leadership of the Washington State Department of Transportation is sorely lacking. Taxpayers pay Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond about $200,000 a year (total compensation) to run this department.

The state Route 16 offram error was known to her in November 2009. When spoken with in June 2010, she stated that she forgot about it, thought it was completed and behind her

She gave no indication that a million-dollar error merited a trip in her state-provided car from Olympia nor that an investigation would help prevent future errors. She stated that if there is blatant disregard for responsibility that discipline would

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July
8th

OFFRAMP: Proper oversight is lacking

Everybody makes mistakes. But when the government has a system of checks and balances with numerous reviews of plans (requiring a large government with an inflated budget), and still makes extremely inane and costly errors to the taxpayer, then there is incompetence or negligence without responsibility or accountability.

Whatever the reason, our elected, appointed and hired officials are not providing proper oversight and stewardship of the budget or projects. When this happens, it is time to take a hard look at those officials and replace the ones who are not earning their keep.

This means informed and responsible

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