In an ironic twist, I was in the middle of chasing down another Kiewit story when the extraordinary news broke that the Port Mann Bridge ice bombs were an act of God. http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/07/28/ice-bombs-called-act-of-god
I’m not kidding. Transportation Investment Corporation ( the crown corporation created for this specific project) and Kiewit/Flatiron partnership ( the design/build team) claimed in court documents responding to legal actions that:
“The buildup and subsequent release of ice and snow from the bridge structure was the result of a confluence of extreme environmental conditions, both unforeseen and unforeseeable to the defendants or any of them and was the inevitable result of an act of God,” the companies claimed.
“No act or omission of the defendants or any of them either caused or contributed to any injury damage, loss or expense suffered by the plaintiff.”
Time for a reality check.
1)As any long time resident of the lower mainland will tell you, despite our primarily rainy winter weather, we do still get episodes of snow, freezing rain and worst of all, sometimes a mix of the two as temperatures fluctuate. It can be a nasty wet mess of slush that breaks tree limbs and downs power lines at it’s worst.
2) The design of the Port Mann Bridge is such that the cables cross directly over the lanes of traffic below. It doesn’t take an engineering degree to figure out anything sitting on those cables is going to fall directly down to the traffic below. In fact, these exact issues are inherent to this particular design and have been noted on other bridges around the world.
3) Documents received as a result of a Freedom of Information filed by Bob Mackin, showed that not only were engineers aware of the risks, while some believed it was a manageable, others were concerned about safety.
And as Bob goes on to report, there was another issue:
“The bridge opening was hurried along for the Premier’s photo op. The bridge was opened during B.C.’s notorious stormy season, yet it did not have its own weather station. In fact, the closest Transportation Ministry weather stations were in Abbotsford and West Vancouver.
One was finally bought for $100,000 and installed in February.
With better understanding of the conditions about to happen and as they were developing, the people that operate and maintain the Port Mann could have halted traffic earlier and avoided damage, injury and embarrassment.”
You gotta love those photo-ops.
Now, head on over to Bob’s older site and check out all the documents that he very helpfully posted on his site,that include “the lengthy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers technical report on superstructure ice protection by Charles Ryerson from April 2009”.
I’m sure the plaintiff’s lawyers will have a field day with them.. if God doesn’t first.
**scroll through them yourself, but documentation showing concerns over icefall start as early as page 5 and on, and Page 21 of the released documents is where some interesting emails come up.***