No one certainly wants the state Department of Transportation to cut corners in carrying out needed structural repairs to the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge.
And we should probably be grateful that, while inspecting the bridge's undercarriage last fall, crews found even more of a need for metal work beneath the roadways.
But as that work goes on — and on, and on, and on — and with nettings and tarpaulins encasing the entire under structure while cars and trucks overhead make their way on and off the island, one lane at a time, it's important for the DOT and its primary contractor, SPS New England Inc. of Salisbury, to remain accountable as to what work is needed, and why the current safety threat somehow wasn't apparent until three full years into the project.
In the process, they also owe state lawmakers and taxpayers explanations as to precisely why the latest $1.3 million worth of bridge work will bring the overall project cost to $28 million — more than three times the $8 million cost initially projected when all of this began in 2008.
DOT spokesman Michael Verseckes is no doubt right when he notes that, as some of the work has gone forward, crews have uncovered more and more problems. Certainly, anyone who has undertaken house repairs can vouch for the potential of finding more needs as the work goes on.
But it would have been nice if those carrying out the initial inspections and scoping out the project from the start could have given all of us a more thorough and realistic assessment for the bridge's needs. And in that vein, the DOT owes some specific answers as to why that wasn't the case — and whether any of the money spent on early and obviously faulty engineering work can be recouped.
The A. Piatt Andrew isn't a second version of The Big Dig. And again, nothing suggests the work isn't needed.
But a bridge project that now threatens to stretch into a sixth year should not just be blindly accepted as a regular part of Gloucester's and Cape Ann's traffic landscape.
Let's hope those answers — and a final timeline for this project — are coming soon.