Faulty TN road projects lead to transportation investigation - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Faulty TN road projects lead to federal transportation investigation


Three construction companies are in trouble with the federal government after they allegedly failed to build what they had promised to the state.

The headwalls, endwalls and catch basins designed for drainage beneath and alongside many busy Tennessee roads were paid for by tax dollars, but may not be built up to code.

The Department of Justice says three companies: Sherman Dixie Concrete Industries, Hanson Building Products and Oldcastle Precast, Inc., signed off on projects that weren't built to specification.

Their walls and basins didn't have enough rebar, and some of the rebar wasn't put in the right place, the justice department claims.

The companies recently settled the case, and a Justice Department spokesperson said the investigation sends "a strong message to those who would seek to substitute inferior products in transportation-related projects."

"We did not intentionally try to short-change anyone. We made mistakes and decided to remedy this matter in the only way we could," said Sherman Dixie president Pete Delay.

So what about your safety on the roads? Engineers with the federal and state transportation departments, along with representatives for one of the accused companies, said the roads are safe for vehicles.

In fact, they plan to leave the ones that were built incorrectly exactly the way they are. We're told the specifications are designed to be overly safe, and the amount of missing or misplaced rebar is negligible.

"The products we're talking about are still in use, and will serve their intended purpose for as long as they are designed to last," Delay said.

The result of the settlements with those three companies means the federal government will recoup $1.259 million.

The construction projects are scattered all across the state, and there could even be some officials don't know about yet.

"I don't think there's a pervasive practice where anybody is intentionally trying to profit at the expense of taxpayers," Delay said.

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