Texas company lied about strength of precast concrete

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, June 17, 2013

An Irving, Texas-based company that manufactures precast concrete commonly used to complete road and bridge projects has admitted to lying about the strength and placement of rebar in its products.

The fine comes at a time of renewed focus in the U.S. on infrastructure following bridge collapses in Minnesota in August 2007 and as recently as May 23 on Interstate 5 in Washington.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Hanson Pipe & Precast LLC, a subsidiary of Lehigh Hanson Inc., has agreed to pay the United States government $500,000 to settle claims that its concrete end walls and catch basins didn’t meet federal specifications.

Hanson Pipe & Precast submitted false claims for payment to the U.S. for products used on a road project in Tennessee, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee said in a news release.  The company repeatedly certified that its products were in compliance with federal standards, although an investigation found the strength and placement of rebar didn’t meet those standards.

“Although Hanson provided these products for projects primarily administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, a substantial portion of the funding for these projects was provided by the United States through the Federal Highway Administration,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office release said.

Marlies Gonzalez, the regional special agent in charge, said the DOT Office of Inspector General remained committed to investigating and prosecuting waste, fraud and abuse.

“The settlement announced today is a strong message to those that would seek to substitute inferior products in transportation-related projects that we will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of the Nation’s transportation system,” Gonzalez said, according to the release.

Hanson Pipe & Precast previously paid the Tennessee Department of Transportation $270,468.82 in damages associated with the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office release said the U.S. DOT and the FHWA may take further steps to “require Hanson to adopt compliance measures to reduce the likelihood of future violations of the False Claims Act.”

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