The work performed by a private contractor at the state Route 410 overpass at the time of Monday’s deadly accident in Bonney Lake didn’t follow the plans previously disclosed to the city, a city spokesman said Thursday.
A project timeline shows demolition wasn’t scheduled to begin until Tuesday, the day after a family of three was killed when a concrete slab fell and crushed their pickup.
Had the safety details been reviewed prior to the work as required by the city, the spokesman said it’s likely that partial or full lane closures would have been planned for the road under the overpass.
“They had a duty to protect the roadway and the public on the roadway,” City Clerk Woody Edvalson said of the contractor.
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Edvalson told The News Tribune the work performed at the site of the sidewalk construction project did not conform with the plans presented to Bonney Lake officials at a regularly scheduled planning meeting last week.
Edvalson said those weekly meetings allow WHH Nisqually, the contractor hired by the city to complete the project, to brief city officials on work to be done in two-week increments. The last meeting didn’t include plans for demolition, he said.
Bonney Lake residents Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their 8-month-old son Hudson were killed Monday morning when a concrete slab fell from the overpass onto Angeline Road East.
At the time, work crews were making vertical cuts to concrete on the span and using an excavator to support, disassemble and move 8- to 10-foot pieces, Edvalson said.
That indicated the contractor was beginning demolition work, he said.
“We were not aware of it,” he said. “We hadn’t had the opportunity to review final safety plans.”
The News Tribune requested documents from last week’s planning meeting. There’s no mention of demolition work in the notes or the two-week project schedule, the records show.
The work scheduled to be done Monday included installation of an overhang and concrete slope protection, according to a project timeline obtained by the newspaper. The document shows demolition work was scheduled to begin the next day.
Edvalson noted that the timeline is a month old and was meant to be a general summary of work to be done, “not a declaration.”
Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson announced Wednesday that the city was working to determine whether crews followed the approved demolition plan.
Edvalson has said a Eugene-based subcontractor, Staton Cos., was in charge of removing the concrete barrier to make room for the sidewalk expansion. The company has been cited for serious violations in Washington state and Oregon during the past several years.
One of those violations resulted in the collapse of a portion of the old Sauvie Island Bridge near Portland in 2008. An investigation into that incident found that Staton deviated from its demolition plan.
Mark Scheer, Staton’s attorney, said in a statement Thursday that another subcontractor was cutting the concrete barrier at the time of Monday’s accident. He did not disclose the company’s name.
“The plans were approved, and our work at the time of the accident was being done in accordance with those plans,” according to Scheer’s statement. “In the 43 years of the company, we have never experienced an accident like this in any demolition project.”
A makeshift memorial for the Ellis family continues to grow at the construction site, where work has stopped while authorities investigate.
A small crew from another project subcontractor, Highmark Concrete Contractors of Buckley, was at the site Thursday building a temporary fence around debris on the shoulder of Angeline Road.
Neither workers nor the city could say when construction will restart.
Edvalson said the city hasn’t determined if it will continue to employ the same contractor or subcontractors once construction resumes.
“The project needs to be finished,” he said. “How that’s going to happen hasn’t been determined yet.”