Today I was reading on the digital wire of ENR.com about the costly mistake of the highway 520 Bridge Pontoons. Cracks start to appear and the long term durability is questioned. The article states that “the state chose to design the pontoons itself on a fast track (rather than delegate that responsibility to contractors) as a strategy to attract lower bids…”. In my mind came also the article from International Business Times about the problems and collapses of new Chinese infrastructure. Is this new fast track project approach responsible for poor engineering?
Is the time pressure and the lowest budget to blame for serious engineering mistakes? The challenging economic environment is pressing away from serious engineering judgment and step by step design and construction, to all at once. Designs are constructed from automated drawings with serious mistakes before the calculations have been completed. Thinking time, quality control and checking are practically omitted even though this is not admitted. Is this the way to go? Should we stop and rethink and try to persuade decision makers and money driven decisions that in the end you are not saving money?
Additional information regarding the fix of the bridge pontoons can be found here