Canadian Consulting Engineer

Commission recommends Quebec Transport Ministry changes way it hires engineering companies

The Johnson Commission of Inquiry has released its report on the collapse of part of the de la Concorde Overpass in...

October 22, 2007   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Johnson Commission of Inquiry has released its report on the collapse of part of the de la Concorde Overpass in Laval near Montreal on September 2006. A 20-metre section of the overpass fell on September 30, 2006, crushing to death five people travelling on the road below, and injuring six others. The report of the commission opens with a tribute to the victims of the tragedy and “all persons whose lives were touched.”Among the technical recommendation of the commission was that CSA-S6-2006 be revised “in order to require at least minimum shear reinforcement in thick slabs.”
The commission, which issued its report on October 18, also recommended that for bridge construction, governments should require the use of high quality concrete that meets updated requirements set out in CSA-S6-2006 and in CSA-A23.1-2004.
An important recommendation that directly affects consulting engineering firms was that that the Quebec government should hire consulting engineers and contractors based on “competency.” The report summary suggests the government should not only consider the company’s past performance on similar contracts, but also that when prequalifying engineering consulting firms and contractors, the government should ensure that when the contract is actually awarded, the firm “still has in its employ key personnel on which its qualification is based and that such personnel will be available for the duration of the work.” The commission also recommended that infrastructure owners evaluate consulting engineering firms and contractors at the end of the project, and keep these evaluations on record.
Another recommendation was that engineers should sign and seal “as built” drawings and that engineers have the legal authority to supervise construction sights.
The Ordre des ingenieurs du Quebec, the professional licensing body, has generally welcomed the Johnson Inquiry’s recommendations. Mr. Zaki Ghavitian, ing., president of OIQ, said in a release: “We think that the work of the commission marks a turning point in infrastructure management in Quebec. For the first time in decades, society has realized that it needs to pay serious attention to public infrastructures. The ball is now in the government’s court, and they must act as soon as possible.”
Lawyer Pierre Marc Johnson was chair of the commission, along with engineers Roger Nicolet and Armand Couture.


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