The Ministry of Transport is in the process of building a new bridge over the old foundations, which will have to be rebuilt within 25 years.
At an estimated cost of about $ 200 million, the Pi-IX bridge repair connecting Montreal and the Laval is one of the most important projects underway at MTQ.
When the construction site opened in 2019, the ministry chose to redesign the bridge deck, while retaining the 1966 foundations.
However, according to a 2015 internal report obtained by our Bureau of Investigation, MTQ experts recommended a complete overhaul of the bridge, stating that it would not be more expensive than just redesigning the deck.
The report states that this would have resulted in a “completely new” bridge being built, with an estimated lifespan of “75 years”, “by current standards” and “low maintenance cost”.
But this was not a choice made, an absurd situation in the eyes of the Professional Association of Engineers of the Quebec government currently on strike.
“From an engineering perspective, this is a very bad idea. We are working on a $ 100 million project on foundations with a lifespan of between 0 and 20 years. From the beginning of the bridge’s life we are at risk of problems, ”said its president, Mark-Andre Martin.
“The condition of the batteries does not require their complete overhaul,” the ministry said.
“Intervention on the foundation units of the piles may be necessary in the 25-year horizon,” MTQ spokeswoman Gilles Payer noted.
But according to state engineers, it was a “very bad management decision.” “Redesigning foundation units under the deck is very difficult. That would increase costs tenfold, ”Mr Martin believes.
He lamented that the ministry was going “against the advice of engineers” to “expedite the project”.
“There were standards from the beginning not to work on the river [donc sur les fondations] To avoid measures that impede environmental powers. This is the general context of political directives, “he said.
Another engineer report from 2011 stated that it is important not to increase the deck weight to meet the standards when an earthquake occurs.
In fact, bridge piers are considered “unreinforced” concrete because of their low metal content in the structure.
The union says this is another non-implementation recommendation.
“The foundation units do not meet Canadian Highway Bridge standards. On the plans, it was suggested that the project was not earthquake resistant [majeurs] “, Mark-Andre Martin emphasized.
MTQ certifies that “design provides improvements in seismic response” without specifying whether it meets existing standards.
- Quebec government engineers resumed their strike on Wednesday, beginning on April 22. The reward increase has been at the center of controversy.
Cracks and Pieces coming out
According to a recent inspection report of the Pi-IX bridge, in 2018, several piles (pictured) of cracks qualified as “moderate” or “significant”. There are also pieces of concrete separated from it. However, their situation is considered “acceptable”, which prompted the ministry to keep them.