As more key Caltrans workers and consultants break their silence, it becomes harder to believe Tony Anziano, the manager in charge of construction of the new western span of the Bay Bridge.
They say he ignored their concerns about substandard quality and testing, tried to silence them, insisted they not put complaints in writing and punished them when they didn't play ball.
Anziano denies the accusations, suggesting the individuals were sometimes at fault. He says one angered the contractor he was overseeing, another was abusive to a fellow worker and two wanted more autonomy.
Those are the conflicting perspectives contained in a report commissioned by the state Senate transportation committee, led by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, that examines why bridge costs ballooned from $1.4 billion to $6.4 billion yet serious questions remain about its life span.
The report portrays a rush to finish with little regard for expense and at the sacrifice of quality. "At least nine top bridge engineers, scientists, and other distinguished bridge construction experts who worked on the project have similar stories of being gagged and banished," writes the report's author, investigative journalist Roland De Wolk.
—... (T)hey have consistent tales about admonishments by management to avoid keeping written records of the discords that could help document -- or dismiss -- their criticisms and concerns."
The report reinforces that Gov. Jerry Brown must get beyond his blind defense of the bridge project and fix Caltrans' unprofessional culture of intimidation, secrecy and denial.
As Oakland mayor, Brown insisted on the signature design that drove up costs and added delays. As governor, he has dismissed Caltrans' costly mistakes. "(Expletive) happens," he said at one point. And in 2012, he vetoed DeSaulnier's bill to establish an independent inspector general for transportation.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Dougherty, Brown's Caltrans director, defends Anziano and the bridge project. Remember, it was Dougherty who gave contradictory answers last year about the infamous failed rods. And it was Anziano who arrogantly ignored highly respected outside engineers with divergent views about the metallurgical breakdown.
Anziano, an attorney, remains in charge of bridge construction despite mounting evidence, detailed by De Wolk, that he squelched technical experts' concerns to keep the project progressing:
This is no way to manage. Clearly, it's time for Anziano to go.