Johnson commission report on Laval overpass collapse

Written by  //  October 19, 2007  //  Canada, Infrastructure, News about Wednesday Nighters  //  1 Comment

Quebec roads under scrutiny
Government creates independent agency to build, maintain and repair bridges and overpasses in province

WILLIAM MARSDEN, The Gazette
October 19

The Quebec government will create a special autonomous agency to build, maintain and repair bridges and overpasses throughout the province, the transport minister announced today.

Fatal Canada overpass poorly built, kept up-probe
By Robert Melnbardis
MONTREAL, Oct 18 (Reuters)
… Presenting his report on the accident, Pierre Marc Johnson criticized private sector individuals and firms involved in the 1971 construction of the viaduct.
“Why was it badly installed? Because the work was badly done, extraordinarily badly done, an unprecedented negligence on this site,” Johnson told reporters.
Poor-quality concrete was unable to withstand winter’s freeze and thaw cycles and the eroding effects of de-icing salts, while routine replacement of expansion joints further weakened the structure because the bridge was not shored up during the work. Inspection and maintenance schemes were poor.
Mindful of similar incidents like the August 1 collapse of a U.S. highway bridge into the Mississippi River at Minneapolis that killed 13 people, the commission said it has told Canadian and American authorities of its findings and advised that codes on building overpasses have shear reinforcement standards.

‘Chain of causes’ contributed to Laval overpass disaster: report
… The Johnson report makes 17 recommendations in light of its findings, which include spending $500 million a year for 10 years on bridge and overpass repair and construction.
Johnson reproached the government for ignoring roads and highways for decades, but said it was a choice Quebec society made at the time as it focused on building its education and health services in the 1960s and 1970s. “They didn’t go far in the transport division,” he said in French.
Johnson urged the government to make bridge and overpass inspections a priority, and to set up stable long-term financing for road infrastructure that could include user fees, tolls or partnerships with the private sector where “there is investment capital” for long-term projects, he said.

Quebec takes the fall
Laval overpass collapse. Transport minister vows change as Johnson rides department hard
WILLIAM MARSDEN and KEVIN DOUGHERTY, The Gazette
October 18

The Johnson commission report on the fatal collapse of a Laval overpass last year will be highly critical of the conduct and culture of the Quebec Transportation Department, provincial Transport Minister Julie Boulet indicated yesterday.
“The message is clear,” she said in a brief interview in Quebec City.
“There will be a change and an important change of culture in the Transport Department.”
The three-person commission, headed by former Parti Québécois premier Pierre Marc Johnson, is to make its report public today.
Boulet’s statements indicate the panel will follow the advice of its own experts and put most of the blame for the collapse of the de la Concorde Blvd. overpass squarely on the shoulders of Transport Department engineers.

One Comment on "Johnson commission report on Laval overpass collapse"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson October 20, 2007 at 4:48 pm · Reply

    The Gazette gets it wrong (again)
    Pierre Marc Johnson is not the right man
    The Gazette
    October 04 2006
    “It’s not often we agree with anything Bernard Landry says, but on the appointment of Pierre Marc Johnson to head an official inquiry into the Laval overpass disaster, the former premier has it right.
    Landry said yesterday Johnson is an inappropriate choice to head the inquest.
    At first blush, Premier Jean Charest’s choice seemed inspired. It held out the promise of a non-partisan, impartial and highly competent process that would cut swiftly to the heart of the issue.
    But post-traumatic second thoughts soon came to the fore: Johnson is, like Landry, a former Parti Quebecois premier who also held important cabinet posts going back 30 years.
    As such, Landry noted, Johnson will be called on to judge the actions – or inaction – of the province for the last few decades. That would include Johnson’s era when Quebec’s roads and bridges saw much of their expansion.That is a vested interest, which in turn means his nomination places that interest in conflict with his mission….

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