Canadian Consulting Engineer

Public hearings begin on fatal collapse of overpass in Laval

The Quebec provincial enquiry into what caused the collapse of the de la Concorde Boulevard overpass in Laval, Queb...

April 9, 2007   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Quebec provincial enquiry into what caused the collapse of the de la Concorde Boulevard overpass in Laval, Quebec has begun. When a 20-metre section of the concrete structure on Highway 19 fell on September 30, it killed five people, and an unborn child travelling on the road below. The overpass was built in 1971, so its collapse has caused some to call for more funding for maintenance and replacement of such aging infrastructure in Quebec and across Canada.
The commission began public hearings April 9. It will hear non-technical evidence during its first phase until mid-May. During the second phase, it will call expert witnesses.
Head of the inquiry commission is Pierre Marc Johnson, a former premier of Quebec. At the end of March, engineers with the Quebec public service were demanding Johnson’s resignation from the inquiry, alleging he had shown bias towards the investigation. They were also asking for the resignation of one of the two engineers appointed to the commission, Armand Couture, whose son works for the consulting engineering company that oversaw the design of the overpass. The third inquiry commissioner is engineer Roger Nicolet.
Audio and video sessions from the hearings are being broadcast on the internet. The commission has to report on its findings by October 15 — an extension of the original March 31 deadline. Its mandate is to report on the causes of the collapse and issue recommendations for avoiding such an event in the future. The commission will not assign legal responsibility or liability.


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