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California Senate Panel Challenges Caltrans On Bridge Safety

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A crane begins hoisting the final section of the new Bay Bridge suspension span, October 28, 2011. (CBS)

A crane begins hoisting the final section of the new Bay Bridge suspension span, October 28, 2011. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) – Lawmakers are asking if California’s bridges are safe after a state engineer was accused of falsifying tests on three construction projects.

The hearing Tuesday by the Senate Transportation Committee comes a day after the California Department of Transportation released thousands of pages of documents it says show structures inspected by Duane Wiles are safe. That includes the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Caltrans says Wiles, who has been fired, falsified data on three construction projects, in Riverside, Alameda and Los Angeles counties.

A member of a state oversight committee says some Caltrans officials knew of problems with Wiles three years ago but did not inform lawmakers.

Contractors could have retested the Bay Bridge pilings before the superstructure was added had they known of Wiles’ past problems.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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