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The National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASHTU) is dedicated to ensuring that federal transportation dollars are spent on cost-effective, safe projects that serve the public interest. NASHTU is comprised of 38 unions and associations representing hundreds of thousands of state and locally employed transportation engineers, construction managers and inspectors, technical workers and related public servants from throughout the United States.

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July 11, 2019

Connecticut DOT Hires Engineering Firm Blamed in Florida Bridge Collapse

On the heels of the 20th Annual NASHTU Conference, our Connecticut affiliate, CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, wasted no time in using information gained at the conference to call out Connecticut DOT’s hiring of FIGG Bridge Inspection for a contract to perform construction engineering and inspection services on a project to rehabilitate the Arrigoni Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River in the central part of the state.

While awarding an engineering contract would not usually warrant news coverage, CSEA/SEIU 2001 brought the contract to the Hartford Courant’s attention earlier this month concerned about the engineering company’s ties to a fatal bridge collapse in Florida.  The bridge, a pedestrian bridge near Florida International University, collapsed in March 2018 and killed one construction worker and five motorists that were stopped at a stoplight under the bridge.

FIGG Bridge Engineers was heavily criticized in a recent Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigative report on the bridge collapse.  FIGG Bridge Engineers and FIGG Bridge Inspection are both part of the same Tallahassee-based group of engineering companies.

The OSHA report said that FIGG, as a designer and the engineer of record, “failed to recognize that the bridge was in danger of collapsing when it inspected it hours before the collapse.”  The report also stated that FIGG did not know why the cracks were occurring but did acknowledge at a meeting the morning of the collapse that the cracks were growing in size.

Travis Woodward, longtime NASHTU leader and president of the P-4 Council of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, is quoted extensively in the article.  He said that the Connecticut DOT should have given FIGG “a cooling off period” until all the questions about blame and responsibility for the Florida tragedy are answered.  “In the meantime, do you want the public questioning this, or worrying about their safety crossing this bridge,” said Woodward.  “Are we putting the motorists and pedestrians at risk by having a subpar contractor come in?”

Woodward is also quoted in the article about the importance of utilizing public sector inspectors to protect public safety and the public interest.  One of NASHTU’s 2019 legislative priorities is passage of HR 1099 (Serrano), which would require federally-funded transportation projects to have construction inspection services performed by public sector employees.

Read the full article in the Hartford Courant.

NASHTU 2019 Conference a Great Success – See you at the 21st Annual Conference Spring 2020!

The 20th Annual National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASHTU) Conference was held June 24-26, 2019 in Washington D.C.  NASHTU conference attendees heard from congressional transportation leaders including Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), and Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), the Ranking Republican of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee.  NASHTU conference participants also heard remarks from EPW Member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and House T&I Committee Member Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA).

On the Tuesday afternoon of the conference, NASHTU members had the opportunity to meet with their state’s congressional delegation and advocate NASHTU’s legislative priorities including increased transportation funding and limiting outsourcing of transportation services on federally funded transportation projects.  That evening, NASHTU hosted a well-attended Congressional Reception that included several Members of Congress and dozens of congressional staff members.

The three-day conference also included many informative panels and presentations on transportation funding, public-private partnerships and other outsourcing schemes, upcoming legislative battles, labor issues, and other topics of interest.

In the coming weeks, NASHTU will be posting proceedings, photos, and some of the presentations of the 2019 conference on our website at www.nashtu.us.  Please make a plan to participate in NASHTU’s 21st Annual Conference next spring – a date will follow soon.