Measure D Funded Route 192 Wall Project more than Doubles Bid Price due to Incompetence and Unqualified Staff, and ends with Deficient Work.

Summerland Retaining Wall - Part 1 Backfill Project #05-0M8704 could have been a 2-month, $250,000 project that would not touch the utilities, but the Summerland Retaining Wall project on Route 192 closed the road for about 9 months and cost $1.4 Million just for the main contractor - Specialty Construction headed by Doug Clay, which happened to win three Caltrans projects in a row. The Caltrans Design Engineer admitted to not calculating the design, but just cutting and pasting other plans together, with many errors, necessitating a huge excavation at the creek, and the utilities to be moved for a bid award of about $640,000. Unqualified staff repeatedly modified the design without proper and legal change orders, causing huge "Extra Work" cost overruns and deficient work. The photo at Right shows a piece of equipment falling into an excavation, after which the foreman threatened the inspector with death.

The field engineer reminded Caltrans that the Fish and Game Permit did not allow the creek to be disturbed, but the photo shows the actual result. Due to Caltrans error, the utility pole with all lines was moved to the wrong location (within the excavation), and the contractor, Specialty Construction, claimed that the wall could not be built as designed. The structure construction field engineer and inspector requested the Caltrans Design Engineer to provide correct and complete Plans, but the Design Engineer refused to correct the errors and omissions, despite being responsible for them and having signed the Plans to be complete and correct.

Despite the project contract showing fixed prices for the structure work, the Contractor, Specialty Construction, got paid by-the-hour digging, re-digging and building the wall one-half at a time differently than the plans showed. Summerland Retaining Wall - Resident Non-Engineer

Caltrans violated its own policy by allowing an unqualified person to run the job. Caltrans Construction Policy Bulletin "CPB 07-3", dated June 20, 2007, requires a "Resident Engineer" to be a California licensed engineer, but Michael Mortensen had no engineering license, no engineering degree, and displayed a BA in psychology. However the unlicensed, non-degreed Michael Mortensen changed much of the contract after the job was bid and approved. As of 2009, Mortensen continued to work as a Resident Engineer. Mortensen is shown at Left, without required proper footwear.

The Senior Structures Engineer, Les Mikio Inagaki, from Bakersfield admitted to lacking experience and knowledge of structure work. The District 5 Construction Office Chief, Pat Connally, had only an associate engineering degree from a community college. Carl LeBreque, Foreman, who violated safety codes and threatened the inspector, is shown below Right with no safety hat nor vest. Summerland Retaining Wall - Moving Utilities

Michael Mortensen modified the contract plans and specifications for the contractor, and approved improper structure construction work, causing the drainage structures to be built not per approved plan, wall to be built not per approved plan, rock slope to be built not per approved plan, grading to be built not per approved plan, creek to be built with no approved plan, grading to be modified several times, structure backfill to be modified, guard rail to be modified; and the utility pole with electric, phone, and cable lines to be moved a second time at unknown additional cost. Summerland Retaining Wall - Moving Utilities

Meanwhile the real Engineer (degreed and licensed Civil Engineer in structure construction department) who refused to approve the deficient work was harassed, assaulted and suspended for a month, while contractors Doug Clay and Carl LaBreque complained that he "disturbed the workers" by photographing the contractor's deficient work that he was inspecting and rejecting. Although Alan Haag (Senior Construction Engineer), Jeff Abercrombie (Area Manager), Les Mikio Inagaki (Senior Structure Engineer), Arvinderpal Singh Gill and others were shown photographs of illegal and improper activities (more shown elsewhere on this website), malfeasance continued as of 2009.

Despite a Caltrans-hired investigator describing the Caltrans Santa Barbara office to be "broken," the malfeasance was covered up and the 17-year Caltrans Civil Engineer "whistleblower" was threatened, assaulted and suddenly transferred to Bakersfield, while at least 5 private consultant engineers, costing the State over $1,000,000 per year, were hired in Santa Barbara. Some of these consultants were hired from a private consulting firm managed by Gregory Chelini, a friend of Caltrans engineer Arvinderpal Singh Gill, who was promoted despite poor reviews, and history of improper use of State equipment. Summerland Retaining Wall - Moving Utilities

Due to the huge cost over-runs, Michael Mortensen and Alan Haag requested additional funds from the California Transportation Commission, apparently without disclosing that Caltrans made errors. This wall could have been built for under $250,000 without moving the utilities, but instead the wall contractor, Specialty Construction, was paid approximately $1.4 Million for this small, low-traffic, specially-colored concrete wall overlooking a horse pasture, not including the work of three utility companies moving all of the utilities twice.

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What happens when retaining wall fails from improper drainage:

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