New questions for city officials about cracked rail tie problem

By: Paul Boyd

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - New questions are surfacing in light of Channel 9's exclusive report on Wednesday that revealed concrete cracking problems have plagued 12 percent of the rail ties installed on the new LYNX Blue Line Extension project.

[EXCLUSIVE: CATS admits to defective concrete problem after whistleblower 9 investigation]

A Whistleblower 9 investigation led Charlotte Area Transit System officials to admit 2,076 defective concrete ties have been replaced to date, while another 2,400 have been sealed with epoxy.

The investigation revealed the problem was first discussed internally at CATS in late 2015.

Channel 9 also knows a full internal CATS investigation was not launched until late the following year.

Internal emails show that by the end of 2016 several CATS officials were fully aware as to the magnitude of the concrete rail tie cracking problem.

So, when were key city officials first told about the massive construction problem?

Channel 9 is still waiting for a complete answer.

CATS assertion in a statement on Wednesday that there will be "no additional cost to the taxpayer" is refuted by its own internal documents.

One report Channel 9 uncovered clearly states the cracking problem raises serious questions about "downstream maintenance costs" for taxpayers.

The admission that 2,400 ties have been sealed with epoxy also suggests there could be increased maintenance and replacement costs sooner rather than later, not to mention service delays for customers during future rail tie replacement efforts.

The concrete cracking issue was not part of the official presentation to Charlotte City Council or the public comments made by CATS CEO John Lewis in February 2017, when he announced the delayed opening of the Blue Line extension.

We have also not found any City of Charlotte meeting records that indicate officials have publicly discussed the rail tie cracking issue and its potential impact on taxpayers.

There was no mention of the extensive concrete cracking problem in "Monthly Progress Reports" produced by CATS for city officials and partner agencies in January or February of 2016.

Channel 9 has asked CATS if specifics about the cracking problem were included in subsequent reports issued to officials from March through July. CATS has not responded.

In the interest of transparency and accountability, we asked the following 32 public officials when they first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete on the LYNX Blue Line extension project that needed to be replaced.

Their responses are indicated below and are being actively updated:

 City Manager Marcus Jones

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response.

 Deputy City Manager Sabrina Joy-Hogg

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Assistant City Manager Debra Campbell

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Assistant City Manager Kim Eagle

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Assistant City Manager Ann Wall

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Chief of Staff Katie McCoy

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Chief Financial Officer Randy Harrington

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Intergovernmental Relations Manager Dana Fenton

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Interim City Engineer Jennifer Smith

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Blue Line Extension Director Jill Brim

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Director of Communications Sandy D'Elosua

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

City Attorney Robert Hagemann

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Sr. Assistant City Attorney Brad Thomas

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Mayor Jennifer Roberts

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Mayor pro tem Vi Lyles

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response.

Council member Julie Eiselt

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Council member Claire Fallon

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response.

 Council member James Mitchell Jr.

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Council member Patsy Kinsey

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Council member Al Austin

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response.

 Council member LaWana Mayfield

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Council member Greg Phipps

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response.

 Council member Dimple Ajmera

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response.

Council member Kenny Smith

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

Council member Ed Driggs

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS CEO John Lewis

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS Deputy Director for Development John Muth

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS General Manager of Rail Operations Allen Smith

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS Chief Operations Planning Officer Larry Kopf

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS Director of Marketing & Communications Olaf Kinard

We asked when he first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS Public Relations Manager Krystel Green

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

No response. 

CATS Senior Public Relations Specialist Hillary Ryan DeLong

We asked when she first learned there was a large amount of defective rail tie concrete that needed to be replaced?

 

No response.

 

 

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