After offering little more than platitudes for more than a month, Multnomah County's finally gone public with its opinion on the state of the Morrison Bridge.
That opinion, according to a complaint filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court last week: The bridge's brand new decking is falling apart, the damage is going to cost more than $2 million, and everyone affiliated with the project is to blame.
None of which is particularly new or surprising. It's just nice to see the county finally say it.
As we've reported, the Morrison is at the heart of an ongoing (and growing) legal snafu. The Washington-based contractor that installed a new fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) deck on the bridge in 2011 and 2012 filed suit last year, claiming panels were shifting under vehicles and screws had come loose. That suit—filed by Conway Construction—demanded a $1.3 refund for the polymer materials from North Carolina-based ZellComp Inc, which supplied them.
The county's newly filed complaint makes similar claims. It also says the deck has begun to crack, and has "irregularly dimensioned" panels and "voids in the FRP Decking webs."
"The County's review of the FRP Decking defects is ongoing, and the County reserves the right to identify other defects and property damage as they become known," the suit says. "The cost to repair the defects in the FRP decking is currently unknown, but the total damages the county will incur as a result of these defects will likely exceed $2,000,000."
It's unclear how officials arrived at that figure. Documents filed by Conway Construction estimated the decking would cost $1.5 million to replace. The entire deck replacement project cost $4.2 million, but the county only paid a little more than 10 percent of that. Federal money funded the rest.
County officials aren't being too discriminating in how they assign blame for the botched job. The suit names Conway, which installed the deck, ZellComp, which engineered and supplied the deck materials, and Strongwell Corporation, which fabricated the deck materials for ZellComp. Oh, and also Travelers Insurance, which issued a bond guaranteeing Conway's work on the project.
As we've noted, the Morrison is the second Portland bridge to suffer from faulty polymer decking. The county went through similar difficulties with the Broadway Bridge in 2005.
Officials have consistently declined to comment on the state of the Morrison, other than to say it's sturdy and safe.
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