Photo Courtesy of Bridges to Prosperity

Nonprofit Group Builds Footbridge in Rural Nicaragua

Volunteers built a 164-ft suspension footbridge that allows people from several Nicaraguan villages to cross the Rio Jucuapa River safely near Jucuapa Abajo. Work ended on on Oct. 9. Turner Construction, New York City, and Flatiron Construction, Firestone, Colo., donated materials, expertise and personnel. The nonprofit group Bridges to Prosperity, Denver, supervised. The organization pinpoints key river crossing points for rural communities in need of health care, education and economic opportunities. It then recruits workers and collects materials. The organization also teaches footbridge design and engineering techniques to benefit the greatest number of people in local communities. With corporate support from construction companies in developed nations, the nonprofit has built more than 100 bridges since 2001.

Ex-Parsons Workers Sentenced In Iraq Contract Kickback Cases

Two former Parsons Corp. employees have been sentenced in federal courts in Alabama to prison terms for taking part in a kickback conspiracy involving Iraq reconstruction-related subcontracts. The U.S. Dept. of Justice said that on Oct. 9, Gaines R. Newell Jr., an ex-Parsons program manager, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release; Billy Joe Hunt, an ex-Parsons deputy program manager, was sentenced on Oct. 10 to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Justice said the two admitted that from 2005 to 2007, they had taken more than $1 million in kickbacks from companies to which they had arranged to award subcontracts for an Army Corps of Engineers-run munitions clearance program. Court filings say Newell and Hunt had managerial positions under a Parsons contract to support the program, which was to prevent "insurgents and other unfriendly groups" from acquiring stockpiled, abandoned or seized munitions and using them against coalition forces or other Iraqis. Parsons says in a statement that it "cooperated fully" with the federal investigation and that the individuals "acted outside the scope of their employment." Parsons adds it had no knowledge or suspicion of the kickback scheme.

California's OSHA Investigates Death on I-405 Widening Project

The California chapter of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (Cal/OSHA) is investigating the death of a worker performing excavation on the $1-billion Interstate 405 widening through Los Angeles' Sepulveda Pass Oct. 11. Adolfo Figueroa, an employee with Kiewit Corp., the design-build team leader, was killed about 2:30 a.m. by a falling steel beam on a southbound off-ramp. By statute, Cal/OSHA worksite investigations must be completed within six months, says spokesperson Erika Monterroza. Work was halted on the 10-mile project that will add high-occupancy lanes. "Kiewit has taken the time to get their entire workforce together to reinforce safety and remind them that they are a family and they need to work together and support each other," says K.N. Murthy, executive director of transit project delivery for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He says Metro projects had over 4.5 million hours of safe working hours to date.

OSHA Cites Firms for Recent Fatal Accidents, Major Hazards

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended Oct. 5 that a joint venture of Massman Construction, Traylor Bros. and Alberici be fined $15,300 for four serious safety violations, related to the March death of a worker on the new Mississippi River bridge being built near St. Louis. The worker, 35, was on an aerial man lift placed on a barge, considered an unstable platform, that fell into the river while he was on it. The $640-million bridge, including approach work, has a main span of 1,500 ft. Massman, Traylor and Alberici officials were not available for comment at press time. Cited by OSHA on Oct. 11 for a separate fatal crane collapse in April on a road project near De Pere, Wisc., was Lunda Construction Co. The agency is recommending a $21,000 fine for three serious safety violations. OSHA also is proposing fines of $117,600 and $46,200, respectively, against Bracato Construction Inc. and Hurtado Construction Co. for willful, serious and repeat violations linked to trench construction hazards that did not involve fatalities.

New Jersey Transit To Pay Firms For Design on Cancelled Project

A spokesman for New Jersey Transit confirms that the agency's board agreed Oct. 15 to pay a joint venture of Barnard Construction and Judlau Contracting $5.6 million to cover design and mobilization costs under its contract for a $9.8-billion tunnel project between New Jersey and Manhattan that was cancelled by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie (R) in October 2010. The firms had filed a $10.3 million claim but the agency recommended the settlement to avoid litigation costs, says a published report. The NJ Transit spokesman says all design documents generated by the venture and its design consultants will "be provided" to the agency. The work, which was done under the firms' estimated $583-million original contract that was awarded in 2009, may be used for another proposed NJ-NY tunnel, according to reports.