The Mario M. Cuomo bridge construction may not have gone as smoothly as contractors let on, according to whistleblower reports.
According to a report by NBC News 4, a former safety inspector and whistleblower alleges that construction contractors covered up potential safety problems on the Mario M. Cuomo bridge. According to their findings, around 60 of the bridge’s one million steel bolts failed or broke during the bridge’s construction, which foremen have failed to report to the State Thruway Authority.
Per whistleblower reports, one of the project’s foremen was recorded stating these failures were “a major defect that does not normally occur.”
The whistleblower, who has remained anonymous, filed a civil lawsuit on the issue and the State Attorney General opened an investigation into the allegations of corruption; however, the New York State Thruway Authority insists that the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge’s safety is not in question.
“Well over a year ago, the Thruway Authority hired independent experts to check the safety of the bolts on the new bridge,” a spokesperson told NBC. “After a thorough review, and before the first span of the new bridge opened to traffic, the independent experts concluded that the actual bolts and the bridge are safe.”
This whistleblower report comes after accusations by critics, including former Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout, that Andrew Cuomo rushed the construction of the bridge to complete ahead of the Democratic primary election in September.
On one of the transcripts obtained by NBC, a construction foreman claimed that the broken bolts were not reported to the State Thruway Authority because “that would shut down the whole job.”
If the whistleblower’s accusations of a cover-up are true, the safety of the bridge’s bolts could come into question again, which would require further testing and possibly large-scale replacement. Such an undertaking would likely cost millions of dollars, adding to a $3.9 billion project that has already come under scrutiny for safety issues in the past.
“Public safety is our highest priority and the bridge is completely safe for the traveling public,” a Thruway Authority spokesperson explained to NBC.