Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front (January 01, 2011)

January 1, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



$3 billion to rebuild Turcot Interchange

After years of debate and false starts, Quebec’s Ministry of Transport is set to embark on a massive reconstruction of the infamous Turcot interchange in downtown Montreal.

Built in the 1960s, the interchange is a spaghetti-junction of concrete overpasses and underpasses in the southwest area of downtown. The heavily travelled interchange is critical because it connects a number of important arteries, including Autoroute 20 and the Ville-Marie Expressway that crosses east-west through the city. The interchange carries over 290,000 vehicles a day.

Unveiled in November, the new plan will see the reconstruction not only of the Turcot interchange, but also three others, De La Verendrye, Angrignon, and Montreal Ouest, as well as large sections of highways 20, 720 and the adjacent railway corridor. The plan includes special traffic lanes, lots of green space and areas for redevelopment around the Lachine Canal.

A number of firms have worked for the Quebec Ministry of Transport on the Turcot project over the past few years. They include: Axor, Dessau, SMi, Ethnoscop, Genivar, Tecsult, BPR, Groupe SM, Inspec-Sol, Shermont, SNC-Lavalin and Cima+.

The project is expected to cost $3 billion and will be built over seven years, beginning this year.

The Quebec Order of Engineers (OIQ) issued a press release over its concerns that traffic must be kept flowing during the long construction period, and urging the government to offer some relief by immediately implementing public transportation projects along the east-west axis.


CEBC tackles problems with RFPs

Last March, Consulting Engineers of British Columbia (CEBC) set up a formal policy to help its member firms deal with requests for proposals (RFPs) that they feel place unfair burdens on consulting engineers. The policy invites the firms to notify CEBC when they encounter problems in an RFP, and CEBC’s executive committee will then consider whether to take action.

The CEBC will not intervene during an actual procurement process, but afterwards board members or the executive director may take up the issue with the client, perhaps by a meeting, or a phone call. Or the association may issue a general advisory to all its firms alerting them to the specific problem found in an RFP – though not naming the client. The association has to be careful not to contravene Canada’s competition laws and so will not directly advise its members to avoid future RFPs from a particular client.

According to Doug Hinton, P.Eng., who headed the committee that drew up the CEBC’s policy, the association has received four requests from its member firms since last March, and in two cases “the client responded fairly positively,” Hinton says.

Asked what kind of difficulties consulting engineers encounter with RFPs, Hinton explains that an example might be where the consultant is going to have to hand over its intellectual property. Or the client might expect the consultant to assume too much risk, such as requiring a firm to assume unlimited liability for a project, or to design the project “fit for a purpose,” which is a contract phrase that may cause insurance companies to invalidate their Errors and Omission insurance. If the consultants’ fee has too high a weighting in the RFP’s scoring for who wins the project, then that too is a concern, since CEBC promotes qualifications-based selection.

Hinton says that before the policy was in place, members would raise such issues with clients through CEBC, but “this sets out a formal process; we have a mandate to follow.”

He recognizes that for some clients it is difficult to change procurement policies because they are so entrenched and many departments are involved. But CEBC has had positive responses, and it sees its role as “a long, ongoing effort.”


Big Becky nears end at Niagara

“Big Becky,” the largest hard rock tunnel boring machine in the world, is drilling a third tunnel to divert water from Niagara Falls to the Adam Beck Generating Station at Queenston, southern Ontario. By late December the TBM was past the 9-kilometre mark on its 10-kilometre journey as part of the Niagara Tunnel Project. The machine will emerge in a coffer dam built near the Falls.

The project suffered considerable setbacks in its earlier stages. Work began in 2005, but the tunnelling design-build contractor, Strabag AG of Austria, unexpectedly encountered poor rock conditions and eventually had to change the alignment. The tunnel is now scheduled to be completed in 2012-2013 for approximately $1 billion.

The massive TBM, manufactured by Robbins Company, is roughly four storeys high, 150 metres long and weighs around 4,000 tonnes. It is carving a tunnel 14.4 metres in diameter – one and a half times larger in diameter than the Chunnel between France and England. The material it is removing is enough to fill 100,000 dump trucks.

The water will enter the new tunnel by dropping down a 100-metre shaft drilled just upstream from the Horseshoe Falls. Much of the route then follows alongside two existing tunnels built in the 1950s that run directly below the city of Niagara Falls.

Once completed, the new tunnel will carry about 500 cubic metres per second of water, adding about 1,600 gigawatt-hours to the Sir Adam Beck’s station’s annual power generation capacity.

Hatch Mott MacDonald with Hatch Energy are consulting engineers providing technical reviews for the construction of the tunnel for Ontario Power Generation.


Peace Bridge making its mark

Construction on the new iconic bridge over the Bow River in downtown Calgary is expected to be completed by the middle of 2011.

Designed by world-famous architect, Santiago Calatrava, the $22.5 million pedestrian bridge connects the Eau Claire area with Hillhurst-Sunnyside. Calatrava of Spain has designed landmarks around the world, including the cathedral-like Galleria in Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place) in downtown Toronto.

The Peace Bridge is much different from Calatrava’s usual work. Whereas his structures tend to be white, soaring creations, Calgary’s bridge is a horizontal tube with a helical formed steel structure in bright red.

In an interview with the Calgary Herald in 2009, Calatrava said the design was conceived during a winter visit to the city, and he wanted it to be covered, as “a bridge that invites you to go through, even with the speed of the wind and the speed of the snowy weather.” He also said the structure is “technically demanding.”

While some Calgarians have questioned why a Spanish designer and steel components from Spain were used, local consultants have played a key role in the design. The design team includes Stantec (engineer of record and construction review), Thurber Engineering (geotechnical), Matrix Solutions (environmental and hydrotechnical), and O2Planning + Design (landscape). The City of Calgary’s Transportation Department is lead project manager.

To see Calatrava’s video of the bridge, visit


New head at CH2M HILL Canada

CH2M HILL Canada has a new president. Thomas G. Searle took over in January and will be based in Calgary. He was previously president and group chief executive of CH2M HILL’s international business and was based in Denver, Colorado.

In the announcement, Searle said a priority for the company will be expanding its services in the energy sector. He also said that Canada’s economy “will outperform other international regions,” and that Canada “will play a pivotal role in CH2M HILL’s global growth strategy.”

Searle has overseen multi-billion projects  in countries around the
world. They include the expansion of the Panama Canal, the expansion of India’s Mumbai airport, and helping to oversee the development of venues and infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  

Searle succeeds René Massinon as the Canadian company president. CH2M HILL Canada has 1,200 employees.


The marriages continue …

Dayton & Knight of North Vancouver has merged with Opus International Consultants, a company of over 2,200 people. The B.C. firm is now known as Opus DaytonKnight Consultants. R.V. Anderson Associates of Toronto has acquired Kavanagh & Associates, a firm of 200 environmental and infrastructure specialists based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The company is now known as Kavanagh Associates, a division of R.V. Anderson Associates Limited. Dessau of Montreal has bought two small Ontario firms: Atkinson, Davies of London and Premier/Levaque of Milton. GENIVAR of Montreal has acquired Tundra Engineering, a Calgary firm of 150 that specializes in the natural gas and oil industry. Genivar also bought Aquapraxis of Laval, Quebec, and Hirschfield Williams Timmins of Victoria, B.C. SNC-Lavalin, has acquired Hydrosult of Montreal. Stantec is to acquire QuadraTec, a mechanical-engineering firm based in St. John’s, Newfoundland with 50 employees.


The irritant of red tape

Canada’s government is creating a Red Tape Reduction Commission. It will focus on small and medium-sized businesses and consult with them “to identify irritants that have a clear detrimental effect on growth, competitiveness and innovation.” The commission will be chaired by Rob Moore, Minister of State, Small Business and Tourism.


Structural engineers taken aback

Structural engineers with the American Society of Civil Engineers are objecting to changes in the draft 2012 LEED rating system. In January they announced they were “taken aback to see structural materials eliminated from the draft LEED credits for regional materials, recycled content materials, and bio-based materials.”


Competition for Wildlife Crossings

Results of a first-ever competition have been announced. “ARC: The International Wildlife Crossing Structure Design Competition” had five U.S. teams in the finalists, with a first prize of $40,000. Canadian Pacific and Parks Canada were among the competition’s sponsors.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories