Monitors now required for all federally funded Cardi projects following IWAY railing issues

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Cardi Corporation has agreed to a second settlement with the federal government in connection with the IWAY railing system that was determined to be “unsafe, inadequate and unfit” about six years after it was installed by the Warwick contractor.

The company signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) that requires the construction giant to hire independent, federally approved monitors who will conduct “on-site, unannounced inspections” of Cardi’s federally funded contracts.

Cardi also agreed to adopt an “Ethics Code” and “Corporate Compliance Program,” and will appoint “Corporate Compliance Officers” who will be required conduct investigations into complaints “concerning ethics or compliance.”

As its part of the agreement, the Department of Transportation agreed not to pursue “suspension or disbarment” against Cardi Corporation.

The document states the agreement was made “without admission of criminal or civil liability.”

Cardi agreed in April to pay a $500,000 settlement following an investigation by the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney and the USDOT into the installation of the IWAY bridge railing system that one official pointed out “is all that lies between the roadway and the river below.”

Scrutiny started in 2014, after a truck hit the structure the year before. Engineers then chipped away at the base of the bridge railing to make sure it was safe, and a Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) report would later state problems were caused by “by the decision made by (parties unknown) to cut the reinforcing steel.”

The new agreement, signed in late September by Cardi executives and federal authorities states, “the rail was unsafe, inadequate, [and] unfit for its intended use.”

In 2014, Target 12 obtained a RIDOT engineering report that stated the railing system was “deemed defective and needed to be repaired” on the 1,200-foot bridge that was about seven years old at the time.

Pictures showed what was discovered after concrete was chipped away, with engineers claiming the way the embedded bolts and rebar were installed made the rail system vulnerable to collisions.

At the time of the April settlement, Cardi Corporation Vice President and General Counsel Jeremy Ritzenberg said the Warwick-based contractor “cooperated fully with federal and state officials investigating the issue.”

But Ritzenberg argued “the modifications arose from design defects” the contractor was not responsible for, adding the railing installation changes were approved by RIDOT during the process.

The railing has since been replaced with a new design that meets Federal Highway Administration safety criteria.

The bridge project cost about $11 million and was lauded as award-winning by design and installation method, which involved floating the green, arched structure up the Providence river in 2006.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.