Canadian Consulting Engineer

Award of Merit: Fredericton-Moncton Highway

October 1, 2002
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Category: TransportationMARSHALL MACKLIN MONAGHAN/ McCORMICK RANKIN CORPORATIONThe largest construction project in the history of New Brunswick, the Fredericton-Moncton Highway, opened officially in t...

Category: Transportation


The largest construction project in the history of New Brunswick, the Fredericton-Moncton Highway, opened officially in the fall of 2001.The four-lane, 195-kilometre road is the Trans-Canada Highway between Longs Creek west of Fredericton and Magnetic Hill near Moncton. It has 20 interchanges, four of which are high-speed interchanges, and 89 structures, consisting of bridges, overpasses, underpasses and two high level crossings over the Saint John and Jemseg Rivers.

Marshall Macklin Monaghan and McCormick Rankin in a joint venture provided project management, environmental management, design management and value engineering for the $585 million project. Thirty-five consulting engineering firms from New Brunswick besides others from across Canada were also involved, providing specialized services. Construction was by an international consortium, Maritime Road Development Corporation (MRDC). The highway was originally planned as a toll road, but when a new provincial government reversed this decision, MRDC had to renegotiate its agreement with the province.

The environmental component of the project was significant. For example, the highway crosses 180 watercourses, including 30 with trout or salmon, and passes by large deer wintering areas. The consultants developed an environmental management plan following ISO 14000 principles. They implemented protective measures such as constructing many kilometres of animal fencing and building numerous animal crossings. The crossings were often combined with stream crossings to achieve a natural result. The road grading was designed to minimize the amount of tree clearing, while cuttings of plants such as the regionally rare Buttonbus were cultured and replanted. Extensive sediment and erosion control fencing was put in place to minimize the impact of sediment entering waterways during rainstorms. The Universit de Moncton was called in to do independent environmental monitoring.

One of the most critical stretches was the five-kilometre section through the Grand Lake Meadows wetland. The area was found to contain archaeological sites of the Maliseet First Nation that are 2000 years old, which meant the road alignment had to be modified to protect them. As well, the geotechnical conditions in the wetland made construction difficult. The bedrock was overlaid by approximately 45 metres of organics, silt and clay. Also, the land floods every spring with high waves created by strong winds. A detailed analysis was done with numerical models, and the final grade of the Grand Lake Meadows embankment was constructed to 1.0 metres above the estimated 100-year flood level. A local rock quarry provided the sandstone to protect the embankment, and a model was applied to estimate the long-term degradation of the sandstone.

Other features of the engineering include the use of jointless bridges (i.e. integral abutment and semi-integral abutment bridges which eliminate the need for problematic expansion joints). These were used for crossings of moderate length and skew. Standardized precast, prestressed concrete girders were used for the majority of the bridges.

The Saint John River Bridge is 1,062 metres long, consisting of a 14-span continuous structure, with a centre span of 120 metres over a navigation channel 60 metres wide and with 24 metre vertical clearance. The superstructure is a twin-deck system of composite steel plate girders supported on 13 piers, eight of which were built in the river. The Jemseg River bridge is 976 metres long, and has 14 spans with a centre span of 140 metres.

The project team adhered to a rigid set of ISO 9000 standards for quality control, and with a workforce of 14,000, they completed the highway five weeks ahead of schedule with no fatalities and one of Canada’s lowest accident rates.

Name of project: Fredericton-Moncton Highway

Award-winning firms: Marshall Macklin Monaghan, Toronto & McCormick Rankin Corporation, Toronto

in joint venture (project management, environmental management, design management and value engineering), David Jull, P.Eng., Geoff Millen, P.Eng., Firoz Moolani, P.Eng., Bob Burdett, B.Sc., Bob Hodgins, B.Sc., Chris Gauer, P.Eng., Paul Collier, P.Eng., Martin Scott, P.Eng.

Client/Owner/constructor: Maritime Road Development Corporation


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