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Lawsuit: Washington County Bridges “Dangerously” Deviate From Engineer’s Plans

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – A Washington County Road Department worker has filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court, saying crews “dangerously” ...

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – A Washington County Road Department worker has filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court, saying crews “dangerously” deviated from the engineer’s design plans in construction work on two bridges in the county.

The suit from George Braswell alleges deviation from the design plans left the Stonewall Road and Harvey Dowell bridges “dangerously under supported,” adding the “structural integrity of each bridge has been significantly compromised.”

Pressure from county officials to “save time and reduce costs” resulted in deviations from the design plans on the Stonewall Road Bridge, according to the lawsuit. The work on both bridges was done by county road crews, said Braswell’s lawyer, Joshua Bailey of Fayetteville.

Asked if he would be afraid to drive on the bridges, Braswell told 5NEWS it would be “scary.” Bailey said construction issues on these two bridges raises questions about whether other bridges in the county were improperly built or repaired.

The suit, filed Friday (Dec. 19), names the county and several county officials, including County Judge Marilyn Edwards and Road Department Superintendent Donnie Coleman, as defendants.

Edwards and Coleman could not be reached on Monday (Dec. 22) for comment.

The lawsuit asserts that the Harvey Dowell Bridge on South Mally Wagnon Road between Fayetteville and Elkins was not constructed in accordance with the engineer’s requirement to reinforce the bridge’s concrete piers and end walls, among other deficiencies. Construction of the bridge was completed in November 2013.

According to the suit, Braswell told Edwards about structural deficiencies, but she “took no action to address the issues.”

The suit also alleges that, among other issues, crews working on the Stonewall Road Bridge near Prairie Grove did not properly reinforce the bridge’s West concrete pier.  That bridge, pictured above, is still under construction.

Braswell, 59, also asserts he was harassed by Coleman and other officials about discussing his concerns and was told to quit “stirring the pot,” according to the suit.

Braswell, a heavy equipment operator, is seeking an end to the harassment under the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act. He also is seeking lost wages, punitive damages of an unspecified amount and more, according to the lawsuit.