SACRAMENTO — Caltrans did not retaliate against employees who raised concerns about construction defects on the new $6.5 billion span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but a pattern of mismanagement and poor communication within the department led employees to believe their concerns would be ignored or they might be punished for raising them, a California Highway Patrol report released Friday said.
The report concluded that Caltrans did not violate the state's whistleblower laws, but it criticized Caltrans officials for failing to document problems related to construction or employees' work.
"Poor organizational communication fueled or precipitated many of the issues experienced on this project," including a failure to set clear goals, the report said. "This lack of a unified purpose resulted in frustration and confusion through all levels of the project organization."
An investigative report requested by lawmakers earlier this year found that officials who oversaw bridge construction from 2007 to 2011 repeatedly brushed off criticism about flawed welding, bolts and other engineering work.
Senior state transportation officials acknowledged there were serious problems, including a culture of secrecy, during construction, but they denied during legislative hearings that employees were reassigned or lost their contracts after raising red flags about inferior construction work.