Metal-and-concrete shields that are supposed to protect the Kosciuszko Bridge from terrorists are being held together by nylon straps — following claims that the job was botched by an allegedly crooked contractor, The Post has learned.
Photos shot by The Post show that the shields surrounding all 56 cables on the Queens-bound side of the bridge appear to have been reinforced by black strapping, as well as bands of discoloration around the shields where other straps were apparently replaced.
A federal suit filed earlier this year alleged the anti-terror armor was plagued by “aggressive corrosion” and “severe delamination and separation of the parts” that posed “a severe and imminent threat to public safety, the implications of which cannot be overstated.”
The Post counted a total of 339 black ratchet straps cinched around the two-part shields, some of which had lengthwise gaps between the pieces that were nearly two inches wide.
One device was being secured with 14 straps and several shields were marked by a white, chalky buildup around their lower edges.
Repairs also appeared to have been made along at least one cable, with the gaps in the armor filled in with some sort of caulking.
The conditions on the bridge — which was replaced last year at a cost of $873 million — appeared worse than in March, when The Post revealed that three metal straps had been installed around one of the shields.
That move came a day after the Post exclusively reported on a Baltimore federal suit in which Maryland-based Hardwire LLC claims that its proprietary technology was stolen by a former employee who misused it after underbidding the company for a contract to build and install the shields.
Court papers alleged that the screw-up left the Kosciuszko’s cables vulnerable to attack and could cause the shields to break apart and fall on the roadway.
In the wake of that report, defendant Irvin “Skip” Ebaugh IV and an assistant were spotted by The Post tightening one of three metal straps around a shield with sections that didn’t appear flush.
At the time, a spokesman for the bridge’s construction company — a joint venture of Skanska, Kiewit and ECCO III — claimed that work “was previously scheduled and identified in a routine fall 2019 bridge inspection.”
Hardwire founder and CEO George Tunis told The Post that the Kosciusko’s cable-protection job appeared to be “an engineering disaster in progress.”
“The armor parts are literally hanging by straps,” he said.
“They are a threat to the public if they fall off.”
Tunis added: “I don’t know how anyone associated with the design, engineering sign-off, or construction of the stay cables and protective shielding sleeps at night.”
In August, Maryland chief federal Judge James Bredar gave a green light to Hardwire’s $39.6 million suit against Ebaugh and his company, Infrastructure Armor, rejecting defense arguments to dismiss several claims based on a provision in the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
The state Department of Transportation, which oversaw the replacement of the 80-year-old Kosciuszko, has previously called the allegations in Hardwire’s suit “categorically false” and said the straps that Ebaugh installed in March had “nothing to do with the lawsuit or the safety of the bridge.”
Neither the DOT nor SKE Joint Venture immediately returned requests for comment on Monday.
A defense lawyer said that Ebaugh “has no comment at this time.”