TIGARD, Ore. — The company involved in the construction of a faulty freeway ramp was paid extra to finish the project early, according to an Oregonian report.
The on-ramp to Highway 217 from Interstate 5 has seen 24 crashes in the last six weeks.
A gap in a joint that threads together parts of the flyover has opened up and is partially to blame, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.
According to the Oregonian report, the construction company hired to complete that project received a cash incentive for finishing the project early.
Kiewit Construction received $10,000 a day in incentives, the report said. All in all, the company made an extra $560,000.
Still, ODOT officials said the incentive had nothing to do with the joint problem.
"There are checkoff inspections that are done in the very end," said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton. "That contract would not have been approved unless we were entirely satisfied that the contract had been fulfilled."
Hamilton said if drivers keep to the posted 35 mph speed limit, there should be no danger of crashing, even with the current joint problem on the road.
On Thursday night, ODOT closed the freeway to inspect the ramp.
The agency has known about the problem for weeks, but the closure was the agency’s first in-depth examination of the road surface.
“Some time Friday we'll study the friction of the road,” said ODOT spokeswomen Kimberly Dinwiddie. “That is done by a vehicle pulling a trailer. [It] will take readings of the road surface and study the friction.”
The friction test will determine if the road needs to be treated with material to improve vehicle traction.
Other problems, though, could be at hand.
“Bridges always move and they flex and bridge joints aid in that movement,” Dinwiddie said. ”Bridge joints do move and flex and a half an inch is within tolerance. This is a very complex issue.
There are many things we need to study to determine if there is a problem.”
Meanwhile, ODOT said it will install better and brighter signs to warn drivers that it’s unsafe to exceed the speed limit.