520 bridge contractor blamed for B.C. bridge mishap

520 bridge contractor blamed for B.C. bridge mishap
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The contractor under fire for the leaking pontoons built for the new 520 bridge is being blamed for a mishap in British Columbia.

More than 100 cars were damaged by heavy ice falling from the Port Mann Bridge just outside Vancouver, and the transportation minister blames the bridge builder, Kiewit Construction.

The new bridge outside Vancouver just opened this month, but had to be shut down on Wednesday after falling ice shattered windshields and sent two people to the hospital.

For several hours Wednesday, drivers on the bridge were pelted, smashed and hammered by falling ice.

"And as a result we got a smashed windshield, dents to our car," said one woman. "It was scary."

The $3.3 billion bridge was just completed by prime contractor Kiewit -- the same contractor responsible for building pontoons and assembling them on Lake Washington for the new 520 floating bridge.

An ongoing Problem Solvers investigation revealed all six of the first pontoons had extensive cracks and leaks, and expert sources questioned the ultimate integrity of that bridge.

"I won't drive across that bridge when they have it built," one inspector told KOMO News. "Why would you drive across something that you know might fail, you know? It's a danger factor."

B.C. Transportation Minister Mary Polak says the new bridge design was supposed to prevent any ice or snow build-up that could fall on cars, and she blames Kiewit.

"Absolutely unacceptable," she said. "We will be looking to the contractor to provide us with not only a long-term, permanent solution but also an immediate fix to the problem."

Kiewit told KOMO News by e-mail that the safety of the traveling public is of the utmost importance. With respect to the B.C. bridge, Kiewit said it is evident there is an issue that needs to be addressed, and the company is working with Transportation Canada to identify a solution.