MTA official resigns over flawed span project

Bay Bridge work to cost millions in resurfacing

October 05, 2004|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

The head of the agency that operates the Bay Bridge resigned yesterday - less than two weeks after the state acknowledged that millions of dollars of resurfacing work on the westbound span will have to be redone.

Thomas L. Osborne Sr., executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority, stepped down after seven years leading the agency that runs the state's toll highways, bridges and tunnels.

In a news release issued by the authority, Osborne said he believed a change of leadership was necessary to ensure public confidence in the agency's investigation of what led to premature cracking of the new surface.

Osborne, who earned $132,841 in the post, declined a request for an interview.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan is scheduled to appear today before a state Senate committee to explain what went wrong with the deck reconstruction project.

The flawed work is expected to add $7 million to the $60 million price of the job. It also will force more lane closings as workers tear up the cracked concrete and replace it.

Flanagan, who serves as chairman of the authority's board, said Osborne was not asked to resign, but he suggested the resignation was not unwelcome.

"There is clearly a sense of challenge - that the current situation is one that we wished we were not presented with. It is difficult for our customers. It raises issues of responsibility and culpability that need to be fully investigated," Flanagan said.

He said he would give the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee a report today on the preliminary findings of a consultant hired to evaluate the project.

He declined to discuss specifics yesterday.

"The report does give some indications of contributory factors or potentially contributory factors to the problem," he said. "Determining who is culpable or responsible requires further investigation and evaluation."

Flanagan encouraged any state employees with information about what went wrong to come forward.

"Anyone who reports truthful and accurate information is going to be appreciated," he said.

Osborne, 57, oversaw several high-profile projects during his time with the authority, including the repainting and cleaning of the eastbound Bay Bridge span and the widening of Interstate 95 between Baltimore and White Marsh.

During his tenure, the authority also raised tolls at Baltimore's harbor crossings and other facilities to pay for an ambitious schedule of improvements to I-95 and other projects.

Daniel F. McMullen, deputy executive secretary, will head the authority on an interim basis.

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