Major safety questions about two local freeway bridges - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Major safety questions about two local freeway bridges

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - There are major safety questions about two local freeway bridges after a Caltrans engineer was disciplined for faking safety test results. Tests across the state were reportedly fabricated, or faulty equipment was used.

The bridges in question are the new Interstate 15 bridge above Green Valley Creek in Rancho Bernardo, and the freeway ramp between northbound state Route 125 and westbound state Route 54.

The safety data was in question at those projects, but Caltrans says drivers have nothing to worry about.

Commuter Maggie Walters wasn't alone during her morning commute.

"If there are concerns I probably won't be taking this until it gets cleared," she said.

A number of drivers in San Diego County were very concerned that Caltrans engineer Duane Wiles, who's charged with falsifying safety testing data, worked on two area projects, including the bridges over Green Valley Creek in Rancho Bernardo, and the northbound state Route 125 ramp to state Route 54.

"We had one individual, one employee who after a thorough investigation falsified testing on three structures," Caltrans Interim Director Malcolm Dougherty said.

Dougherty says the falsified testing information was discovered back in 2008, but the employee was just put on administrative leave on the 8th of this month.

"We reassigned him so he was not in a position to do what he was doing before. We evaluated what issue we had to deal with and then we took action," Dougherty said.

That action included going back through testing paperwork to 2004. In the end only three discrepancies existed in San Bernadino, the Bay Area and Los Angeles, according to Caltrans.

Wiles apparently failed to run functionality tests on his testing equipment. All of those sites were re-tested and Dougherty says drivers have nothing to worry about.

"And (the bridges) have been deemed safe and adequate," he said.

Caltrans says no motive was given for the falsification of data. Meanwhile, Duane Wiles remains on administrative leave until November 18, when his termination will take place, three years after the initial discovery.

No determination has been made by Caltrans on pursuing criminal charges.

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