OR motorists file $2M suit against Kiewit, state over ‘crash-prone highway ramp’

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  • A group of 15 Oregon motorists have filed a $2.3 million lawsuit against the state and contractor Kiewit Corp. over what the Oregonian called a “crash-prone highway ramp” that they allege caused several car crashes in 2014.
  • The plaintiffs claim Kiewit and the Oregon Department of Transportation engaged in negligent design and construction and that a metal joint that became misaligned created an uneven, dangerous surface.
  • All of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege they sustained injuries in crashes resulting from the conditions on the ramp. According to the Oregonian, Kiewit earned a $560,000 bonus for completing the ramp ahead of schedule. Kiewit has not yet commented on the suit.

Approximately 37 serious accidents occurred on the ramp in question between 2008 and 2012. Additional crashes in 2014 were the impetus for the current legal action.

According to the Oregonian, the ODOT recognized the problem with the metal joint and uneven surface in 2014. However, after additional inspections, the agency said it was safe and placed blame for the accidents on drivers going over the ramp’s designated speed limit of 35 mph. ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton told the Oregonian that since the state did resurfacing work on the problem areas of the ramp to increase traction in 2014, there have been “very few problems.”

“This tells us that people have become comfortable going faster than the posted speed limit on that bridge,” Hamilton told the Oregonian. “As the road surface deteriorated … soon that road surface wasn’t able to handle those faster speeds.”

Kiewit Infrastructure, a division of Kiewit, is getting ready to start work on Project Neon, the Nevada Department of Transportation’s $1.5 billion overhaul of the Las Vegas “Spaghetti Bowl,” the Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 interchange. Actual construction won’t begin until the fall, but the project is already making preconstruction waves with its plans for the installation of stadium-sized screens, placed along the construction route, in order to assist in keeping drivers up to date on the project’s progress.

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