New claims of 520 Bridge workers drinking at second jobsite

New claims of 520 Bridge workers drinking at second jobsite »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Reaction has been swift after our Problem Solvers investigation caught 520 Bridge contract workers drinking on the job.

Just 24 hours after our story aired, Washington Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond is condemning the work-day boozing and top executives from the private contracting company are flying into Seattle.

And now there's a new revelation in the story.

A new whistleblower has come forward to say the problem is more widespread than anyone imagined.

Among the outpouring of response to our investigation, we're now learning from a former 520 Bridge worker that a different jobsite also has a problem with alcohol.

Our earlier investigation uncovered numerous workers at the Bellevue offices of the 520 Bridge project with beers in their hands in the middle of the afternoon.

Now another worker has come forward to say he saw supervisors with private contractor KGM drinking after hours at a different 520 work site.

The whistleblower, named John, doesn't want his last name used. He also admits he was laid off last April from the Kenmore jobsite, where workers are building the concrete anchors for the 520 Bridge. But he insists that's not why he contacted KOMO. He said what he saw just wasn't right, including once seeing a supervisor drunk in the morning.

"The next morning we're doing our safety meeting and my general superintendent was smashed," John said.

At the Bellevue office, workers appeared very comfortable with the drinking. When KOMO showed up to confront the managers at 3 p.m., two employees were each bringing in a half rack of beer, which they stowed in the refrigerator.

"No drinking, no drugging allowed on the job -- it's terms for termination," John said. "It doesn't matter if it's during hours, after hours -- on the job site it is not allowed."

Washington Department of Transportation Project Director Mike cotton said he didn't believe any of the people caught drinking on camera were DOT employees, but instead were KGM employees. That's the company that won the $586 million contract to build the bridge. But that is still under investigation.

Hammond posted a statement on WSDOT's website on Wednesday saying "... alcohol or drug use is not acceptable within WSDOT projects ..." and, "This issue is receiving attention at all levels ..."

That includes letters to both major 520 contractors reminding them of state law and policy regarding alcohol and drugs, as well as an email to all WSDOT employees reminding them as well.

Governor Christine Gregoire addressed the story in statement released Wednesday night.

"Drinking on the job is unacceptable and WSDOT has long-held and clear policies that prohibit drugs and alcohol in the workplace," she said. "These policies have been reiterated to the private sector contractor Kiewit-General-Manson construction and their employees. We have also taken swift action to confirm these policies with our private sector contractors so that they are clear about the state's expectations."

KOMO made multiple attempts to contact DOT leadership to ask them about these latest reports of drinking at a second 520 Bridge site, but those attempts were unsuccessful.