Nov 18, 2013

Deteriorating Bridges Uncovered in Canadian City

Investigative series shines light on one city’s looming infrastructure crisis

CBC Sudbury's Big Fix Ontario Canada Concrete Pipe  Bridge Repairs Culverts

A recent investigative report by CBC News in Canada vividly illustrates that aging infrastructure problems are not limited to the U.S. In its four-part series, “Sudbury’s Big Fix,” which examined the state of bridges in Greater Sudbury, Ontario, CBC learned that at least a dozen bridges and culverts in the city have exceeded their designated lifespan and require roughly $6.4 million in repairs, far exceeding the available funds budgeted.

Data gathered by CBC also found that the average age of bridges in Sudbury is roughly 45 years. With an expected lifespan of about 50 years, several more bridges will soon need to be replaced or undergo costly repairs, further exacerbating the infrastructure and budgetary pressures.

“CBC did an excellent job bringing to light a problem that is getting worse by the day in cities across North America,” said Matt Childs, president of the ACPA. “What they discovered in Sudbury is far from unusual. In fact, it’s becoming the norm as our legislators continue to kick the proverbial infrastructure can down the road. And as they do that, repair costs climb and the likelihood of a catastrophic event increases.”

Gerry Mulhern, P.E., executive director of the Ontario Concrete Pipe Assn., was interviewed extensively for the series. Among other things, Mulhern was recognized for raising concerns about monitoring culverts that fall under the province’s legislation for bridge inspections. He also called for a new database to track the condition of all 60,000 culverts under Ontario roads, regardless of size.

“We’ve got a huge problem here. There are 60,000 culverts underneath highways across Ontario, and a large percentage of them are in need of rehabilitation or replacement; but the government simply doesn’t have the funds allocated right now to do what’s required to make these roads safe,” said Mulhern. “This is a major public safety issue, and we ignore it at our peril.”