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Re: CalTrans Screw Up

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Are these not FACTS:
1.    CalTrans has determined that certain welding of rebar is
2.    CalTrans has decided not to correct this problem forcing the general
public to
use these structures (approximately 100 bridges statewide).
3.    CalTrans is not going to pay approximately 70 contractors for this
work because
they have deemed the work unsatisfactory although CalTrans is going to
accept the
Bill Allen

-----Original Message-----
From: John F. Jones <jones(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Thursday, November 20, 1997 9:39 PM
Subject: Re: CalTrans Screw Up

>We are starting to get some discussion on this issue and a common thread
>that I am hearing is don't make assumptions unless you know the FACTS.  I
>wonder if anyone subscribing to this list knows the FACTS.  If so how about
>sharing them with us.  That would make this a more enlightened discussion.
>At 04:25 PM 11/20/97 -0700, you wrote:
>>Bill Allen wrote:
>>> The issue I have the problem with is not of technical nature but of the
>>> managerial decision making by CalTrans.
>>> Either the welds are O.K. or not O.K. If they are O.K., then the
>>> should be paid. If the welds are not O.K., they should be fixed. If the
>>> contractors did not do the welding according to the specifications as
>>> on their bid docs, they should correct the welds at their own expense.
>>> Caltrans discovered that there were flaws in the specifications, then
>>> CalTrans should issue a change order to direct the contractors to repair
>>> welds.
>>Hmm.  In ideal world, your solution would be great, and in fact we'd all
>like to
>>see things come out that way.  Unfortunately, though, the real world
>>offers situations that "clean."  Many factors may come into play here.  I
>do not
>>know anything about the facts in this case and have no connection with
>>but working in state gummint would allow me to make some guesses about
>>that *might* play a part in the Caltrans decision.  The first possibility
>>leaps to mind is that the cost of correcting the welds might be way out of
>>proportion to the cost of the original work, like, for instance, that all
>of the
>>bars that were exposed for welding are now embedded in concrete.  The
>>might be inadequate, but might provide some of the strength they were
>>to.  In that case, attempting to force the contractors into compliance
>>inevitably wind up in court, where the argument would quickly devolve into
>>of those "did not, did too" arguments.  If the case involved a number of
>>contractors, they could all band together, so they would have economic
>>way beyond the capabilities of the legal staff of the DOT, who likely have
>>more work than they can handle already.  The case could drag on for years.
>>Over the years I've seen a number of similar cases go to court.  The DOT
>>way more than its share of even the most egregious cases of contractor
>>because the juries see the DOT as the big, bad guy, picking on the poor
>>contractor who's only trying to make a living.  The juries don't tend to
>>understand that the contractor is picking *their* pockets, they just see a
>>of "us" (which includes the contractor) versus "them" (the evil, wicked,
>>and nasty, omnipotent government, which as we all know, is run only by
>>incompetents bent on ruining the lives of "us").  Add to this potent mix
>>political pressures brought to bear on DOTs by the legislative, judicial,
>>executive branches of government, as well as the business community, and
>>ubiquitous willingness to leap immediately into criticism of government
>>your comments provide an example of, and it's a wonder government works at
>>Another factor might be that the public continues to demand "less"
>>which translates into a weakened ability to take on such a battle, due to
>>reduced staffing and budgets.  If this factor applies to the case, your
>>would represent another of those interesting cases where the public
insists on
>>less government and lower taxes, yet expects the same level of service to
>>continue.  Ain't gonna happen, folks.  Something's gotta give.
>>In summary, I would add to the previous comment that unless you know the
>>of the particular case in question, perhaps you should give CALTRANS a
>>Try assuming that CALTRANS' management is competent and that they are
>>their best to do the best job they can for the taxpayers within the
>framework of
>>constraints under which they must attempt to function.  Such an attitude
>>make a refreshing change for those of us who work in government.