Department of JusticeU.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 17, 2017
PROVIDENCE – Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Todd A. Damiani, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Region One Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, today announced that Cardi Corporation, the primary contractor responsible for construction of the I-195 I-way project and the Providence River Bridge, will pay $500,000 to resolve the federal government’s claims that in 2007 Cardi Corporation improperly installed a crash railing on the I-195 I-Way bridge and its approach.
An investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Region One Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation concluded that Cardi improperly installed the crash railing by cutting, eliminating, or altering key segments of structural reinforcing steel rebar that was intended to anchor the railing to the bridge. The government alleges that these changes rendered the railing unsafe, inadequate and, unfit for its intended use and/or not in compliance with project specifications.
The railing is a critical part of the safety systems designed to prevent vehicles from veering off the roadway in the event of a crash. In some areas, the rail is all that lies between the roadway and the river below. The defect in the rail, installed in 2007, came to light in 2013 when a vehicle crashed into the railing, prompting further investigation and testing.
Based on the findings of its investigation, the federal government alleges that the rail actually installed by Cardi was materially different from the design specification required by its contract with RIDOT, and from FHWA-mandated safety standards. The federal government, which funded 80% of the cost of the bridge project through the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”), alleges that Cardi made these changes to the rail’s design without necessary approvals from the Rhode Island Department of Transpiration (“RIDOT”), the state agency responsible for overseeing the bridge project.
Under the terms of the civil agreement, Cardi will pay $500,000 to resolve the federal government’s civil claim, which represents a full recovery of FHWA federal funds used for the installation of the rail. The rail in question, which was installed in a section of the bridge project known as Contract 7, has since been replaced with a new design that meets FHWA safety criteria. The federal government did not fund or contribute to any of the costs of this repair.
“When the federal government spends money on infrastructure projects, it does so with the clear expectation that taxpayers will get what they pay for: safe, conforming, and adequate work.” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch. “When that fails to happen, this Office will not hesitate to use all means at our disposal to ensure that federal funds are used properly, and that the roads and bridges that federal dollars pay for are safe for the driving public.”
“As evidenced by this settlement agreement with Cardi Corporation, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the integrity of the programs designed to maintain and improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said Todd Damiani, regional Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. “Working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues, we will continue to protect the taxpayers’ investment in our nation’s infrastructure from fraud, waste, abuse and violations of law.”