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Breaking news: God denies responsibility for Port Mann Bridge ice bombs, files defamation suit against Kiewit and Transportation Investment Corporation

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.

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.***

I’ll have another Kiewit/BC Government story for you shortly, along with a Surrey focus post by tomorrow, pending callbacks from local authorities.



  1. I’m only surprised they didn’t offer God (in trust to Christy) a huge severance package to leave the employ of the Ministry, then hire him (or her) back on full salary as a Translink advisor, because surely all those breakdowns can be attributed to God, as well.


  2. And the skytrain was also act of ?
    And the 1 hour delay at yvr vancouver airport to get luggage dropped off and get through 2lanes only with a line up out the door after paying 20 dollar AIF each. Plane left 15 minutes late ,waiting for people to get through security at 5-6 am, on a full flight and we had empty seats- missed the flight-.response to all totally unprofessional.


  3. An act of god. So snow in Canada is an act of god. Who knew?

    I had a hard time stopping laughing, that could be a new line in the next “Dumb and Dumber” movie. If you are so inclined, you can say that god caused the snow, but some dumb ass put a bridge in the way and didn’t take that into account.

    So if you are on an ice covered road that has not been sanded or plowed and you go in the ditch, is that another act of god? ICBC lawyers are now starting their opening statements, and the payments will go up to cover the cost.

    What a pile of BS.


  4. IF God gave us eyes to see, brains to engineer bridges, and noses to sniff out bad practices, then Kiewit/Flatiron et al better use their best legs to run away from any appeals.


  5. Its God’s fault. gee I wish I’d have thought of that one when I was a kid. I didn’t do my home work. Its God’s fault. I didn’t turn off the kitchen tap. its God’s fault I forgot.
    I left my bike on the drive way. Mom drove over it. Its God’s fault.
    The dog ate my homework. Its God’s fault.

    There is a lot of God’s fault shit going on here. I’m going to check with God’s representative and ask him. I’m sure the Pope might have something to say about all of this.

    God’s fault, geezus h Christ. I thought we were given brains, eyes, ears, etc. so we could think, act and come to rationale, sort of smart decisions. So if this is all God’s fault, perhaps the teachers’ strike is God’s fault also. I Know, lets check with Christy and see if its all God’s fault.

    I’m sorry but I just can’t stop laughing……….


  6. The fact aside that we seem to be heading the litigious way of our neighbours to the south who will litigate for the sheer pleasure of it – and having reported on government litigation prior to this, they will defend the indefensible,believe me – this story was just so ridiculous it could not go uncommented on.


  7. Perhaps the cost of litigation could be used to defer costs of building a new pattulo bridge, Who hires these “engineers” for B.C. Government projects. UBC Engineers should learn how the build a Bridge not hang a car from one. Port Mann, Fastcat Ferries, Traffic Lights on Freeway overpasses Fore-sight and logic is not a strong point of these designers. Shame


  8. Escape clause in contracts between politicians, insiders, and engineers (P3)
    Google search for: Bridges failure, acts of God and includes conditions that are so out of the ordinary that the changes cannot be considered during design

    An event which is caused solely by the effect of nature or natural causes and without any interference by humans whatsoever.

    Or, as set out in Tennant v. Earl of Glasgow, (House of Lords, 1864):

    “Circumstances which no human foresight can provide against, and of which human prudence is not bound to recognize the possibility, and which when they do occur, therefore, are calamities that do not involve the obligation of paying for the consequences that may result from them.” etc……


  9. I am no expert but am pretty sure of one thing, “God” does not ice bomb people.
    Bad engineering Ice Bombed people crossing the bridge!
    If ICBC is up to speed, they might consider recovering payouts from the builder in question.
    The down side is its still all the same money…. yours and mine gentle taxpayer.


  10. The courtroom question is simple. Can the Defendants show us irrefutable EVIDENCE that God (whichever one ) actually exits and has actually caused this. Agnostics and atheists would not fall under this defense. Again the bottom sucking lawyers and politicos make the taxpayer responsible for lousy engineering. The project must have been reviewed from a scientific point of view and PASSED by the regulatory bodies. It is OBVIOUS that the builders are totally at fault.


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