Federal investigation sought into SR 520 bridge demolition

People across King County are increasingly concerned about the demolition of the old 520 bridge.

A group of neighbors concerned about the ongoing demolition of the old state route 520 bridge are now asking the feds for help.

For months now, community groups have been fighting to stop the demolition work that's taking place on barges in the middle of Lake Washington.  They're worried about potential toxins that may be contained inside concrete from the old bridge, and the environmental impacts that may have on the lake.

"It's a public health and safety issue if you have toxins going into the lake," said Elizabeth Mooney, who lives in Kenmore.  "You have boaters, you have people in the sand on the shore.  And you don't want your little baby putting their hands in their mouth with arsenic or asbestos or who knows what.  They need to completely test the debris from the bridge and then take it away to a proper facility where it will be contained."

Neighbors sent letters Tuesday to the Federal Highway Administration and the United States Department of Transportation Inspector General, asking both agencies to intervene. 

Related: Letter to Federal Highway Administration

Related: Letter to U.S. DOT Inspector General

The letters request a federal investigation into the Washington State Department of Transportation's handling of all parts of the demolition of the old SR 520 bridge, citing "fraud, misrepresentation, or concealing of information" related to the project.

"There's never been transparency from the beginning," said Janet Hays, another concerned neighbor and environmentalist.  "And that's why we're asking for a comprehensive investigation."

The letters to the feds also ask for a review of the demolition work and an immediate suspension of all barge-based demolition while that review is done.  

"We fear that the company that is constructing the bridge is taking shortcuts to fast track the demolition," said Mooney.  "And in the shortcuts, they may be compromising public health and safety."

A spokesperson for WSDOT told KING 5 they have not yet seen the letters and therefore could not issue a response at this time.

WSDOT and the contractor doing the demo work have previously said that they are following strict rules and regulations regarding dust, noise control, and monitoring of environmental conditions during demolition of the old bridge.

WSDOT said the demolition is currently more than 60 percent complete, and is on track to be finished by the end of the year.  

Related stories:
Concerns grow over 520 bridge demolition
Closer look at controversial SR 520 bridge demolition
Letter asks Gov. Jay Inslee to halt demolition of old 520 bridge

Copyright 2016 KING


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