June 1, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
New bridge opens in Montreal
On a rainy May 21, over 5,000 people came to celebrate the official opening of the A25 Bridge between Montreal and Laval.
The bridge is a component of the first public-private partnership project in Quebec. It is also the first cable-stayed bridge to be constructed in the province in over 40 years.
The Montreal Gazette interviewed one person who came to the opening, Ziggy Zalezniak, aged 56, who cycled over the bridge from the Montreal side. He said “It’s pretty neat, because in my lifetime, other than the Champlain Bridge, this is the first bridge that has been constructed. It’s a wonderful opportunity to do something that’s a bit historic.”
The bridge is located along a new 7.5-kilometre toll highway, Autoroute 25. The new highway links the Island of Montreal north over Rivière des Prairies to the suburb of Laval, connecting Henri-Bourassa Boulevard in Montreal with Highway 440.
Completed in four years, the 1.2-km. bridge has a main cable-stayed span of 280 metres. It has precast, prestressed concrete deck panels, and is supported by drilled shafts bearing on rock.
The two pylons are located on each side of a sturgeon spawning pool in the river. The design of the bridge was complicated by having to deal with this environmentally sensitive habitat, as well as dealing with restrictions on the tower height and the presence of high-voltage power lines.
Concession A25 was in charge of the $500-million design-build, operate and maintain project. The P3 consortium involved Kiewit, Parsons, International Bridge Technologies, and Genivar who did design and the environmental assessment. Delcan acted as independent reviewer, while CIMA+/BPR are the engineering consultants for the Quebec Ministry of Transport. The consultants have been working on the project from its beginning.
The P3 consortium has a 35-year contract to operate and maintain the bridge and collect tolls for the first 20,000 vehicles that cross daily. After that the tolls are shared 50-50 with the Government of Quebec.
Some critics worry that the bridge will simply funnel more traffic into an already congested Notre Dame Street East in downtown Montreal. However, the province has promised to redesign the street.
Concrete to last 40 years more
NRC’s Institute for Research in Construction is developing a durable concrete that will increase the average lifespan of bridge decks by more than 20 years compared to typical high-strength concrete, and by more than 40 years compared to normal-strength concrete.
Developed by Dr. Daniel Cusson, Ph.D., P.Eng., a senior researcher at the NRC Institute for Research in Construction in Ottawa, the high-performance self-curing concrete minimizes shrinkage, which is typical of high-strength concrete. Yet the material maintains high-strength concrete’s mechanical properties.
The new formulation also greatly reduces cracking, which means chlorides from de-icing salts have less opportunity to penetrate the concrete to cause corrosion in the steel reinforcement.
The Federal Bridge Corporation is considering using the new mix for one component of the replacement of the North Channel Bridge in Cornwall.
Wood under fire
A large fire that destroyed a housing development under construction in Richmond, B.C. has sparked discussion among associations representing different construction materials.
The Remy housing development at Cambie and Stolberg Roads in Richmond went up in flames on the night of May 3, creating a blaze that lit up the sky for five hours and required 40 firefighters to put it out. No-one was hurt, but the building collapsed in on itself, leaving just its charred concrete elevator core.
The housing development was controversial because it is the first to be built under new rules introduced in 2009 into the B.C. Building Code that allow all wood-frame construction for mid-rise buildings.
Masonry and cement industry associations said the fire justified their concerns about the safety of wood-frame mid-rise buildings, and they warned against other jurisdictions following B.C.’s lead in allowing them. Proposed changes to the Ontario Building Code and the National Building Code are already in the works that also would allow wood frame buildings over four storeys high.
In response, the Canadian Wood Council issued a statement and pointed out that the risk of fire is always higher when a building is under construction, and that this project “had not yet reached the point in time when the fire prevention and protection elements are all in place.”
Leaking roofs linked to asthma
A study released in June by the Montreal Public Health and Social Services Agency (DSP) blamed humidity and mould in housing units as the major cause of children having asthma and other respiratory problems.
The study data from 8,000 parents living on the Island of Montreal during 2006 found that mould and excess moisture at home was responsible for 26% of the cases of respiratory infections, 17% of asthma cases and 14% of winter allergic rhinitis.
The health agency is blaming poorly maintained flat roofs on Montreal apartment buildings as the chief culprit. Norman King, an assistant manager with DSP, said that other research by the authority into 200 buildings has led them to conclude the lack of maintaining flat roofs is a major problem in moisture issues.
The study identified two other major causes of respiratory disease and asthma in the children, but neither was as great an issue as the home’s moisture and mould. Exposure to tobacco smoke was blamed for 10% of asthma cases and 7% of respiratory infections. Lack of breastfeeding was found to be a factor in 11% of asthma cases.
Children in inner city neighbourhoods living in rental apartments had the highest rate of illness. The health agency is urging municipalities to improve the housing stock and sanitation conditions.
Steel Excellence in Ontario
The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction’s Ontario Region gave out awards on May 19. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel which recently opened on Wellington Street in downtown Toronto, won an award of excellence in the engineering category. Halcrow Yolles was the structural engineer. The 208-metre high tower rests on a five storey, glass-enclosed podium that has interlocking and cantilevered structural elements. Page & Steele/IBI Group are the architects.
Halcrow Yolles was also the structural engineer for the Bow, a 58-storey mixed-use development in Calgary, that won an award of excellence in the category “projects constructed outside of Ontario.” Calgary’s tallest building and first steel skyscraper, the Bow has a triangular diagonal grid (diagrid) system in a curved building design. Foster + Partners/Zeidler Partnership are the architects.
In the green buildings category, the Centre for Green Cities at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto won an award of excellence. Halsall Associates is the structural engineer on the project, which transformed an old industrial site off the Bayview Extension. Diamond and Schmitt are the architects.
Halsall Associates was also the structural engineer for the Queenston Plaza Border Crossing Facility, Phase 1 and 2, which won in the architectural category. Moriyama & Teshima was the architect.
Joining the Academy
Several senior people from consulting engineering firms were among the 45 new Fellows inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering on June 2. They included Dennis E. Becker of Golder Associates, Giovanni Bianchini of Hatch, Anton Dav
ies of Rowan Williams Davies and Irwin (RWDI), Henry N. Edamura of MMM Group, Catherine Karakatsanis of Morrison Hershfield, and Peter Halsall of Halsall Associates.
New leaders at MMM
MMM Group in Toronto has appointed Hugo Blasutta as chief executive officer of the company. Blasutta joined MMM in 2010, becoming executive vice president in charge of corporate development.
Robert Webb has been appointed president of MMM. Webb joined the firm after graduating from the University of Toronto. He was most recently executive vice president of infrastructure and environment.
Bruce Bodden continues as chairman of the Board of MMM.
In early June, AMEC acquired MACTEC, a U.S. engineering and environmental services company based in Georgia. MACTEC has 2,600 employees in 70 offices, mostly in the eastern part of the U.S.
Around the same time, AMEC announced that it was rebranding its Earth & Environmental unit to become Environment & Infrastructure (E&I). The move, AMEC said, is “to better reflect the services and scope of the current business and its global growth strategy.”
The E&I business now numbers 7,000 employees and is headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia. It is led by Dr. Hisham Mahmoud as the company president.
B.C. firm joins Golder
Golder has announced a “merger” with HB Lanarc Consultants of British Columbia. HB Lanarc specializes in sustainable design and planning and has approximately 40 people located in offices in Nanaimo and Vancouver.
SNC-Lavalin buys Aqua Data
SNC-Lavalin has acquired Aqua Data, a company of around 100 employees that specializes in water distribution and wastewater collection systems. It has offices in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Tampa, Florida.