$48M Strandherd-Armstrong bridge likely to be delayed ‘months’, says councillor
By Neco Cockburn, Ottawa Citizen March 22, 2013
OTTAWA - The Strandherd-Armstrong bridge project likely faces a delay of months after welding did not meet city specifications, says a city official.
The $48-million project was expected to be finished by Aug. 31, but Gloucester-South Nepean Councillor Steve Desroches indicated last month that timelines were being assessed after testing determined that additional welding work was required.
On Friday, Desroches said a new completion date still hadn’t been determined, but "I do believe that we will be looking at a delay.
"I don’t think it will be weeks. It will likely be months, and this is what’s being confirmed at the present time," he said.
The bridge over the Rideau River between Strandherd Drive and Earl Armstrong Road was supposed to be finished by late last year, but work stalled last March when the original contractor went into receivership. The new deadline at the end of August was set when the project resumed.
Staff are now seeing if time can be made up in other parts of the project, and construction work continues, said Desroches. A full update is expected in mid-April, he said.
"We don’t want to compromise the safety for the sake of a ribbon-cutting. I hope to have more information in the coming weeks with more clarity on the deadline, but clearly the welding is taking some considerable time," said Desroches.
"There are very high standards that have to be met because of the weight, and I think as someone whose family is going to travel on this bridge, I want to ensure that the bridge is safe."
Desroches said in February that some of the welding on the bridge’s arches didn’t meet city specifications.
"It is a complex welding process," he said on Friday, with "very sophisticated testing that is part of the quality control."
Each of the three bridge arches is composed of 10 pieces that must be welded together, according to information posted to the councillor’s website.
The bridge was originally expected to open to traffic in early 2012. That timeline was stretched before contractor ConCreate USL of Bolton, Ont., went into receivership in March.
The city held a $23-million performance bond on the project, and its bonding company - The Guarantee Company of North America - chose Horseshoe Hill Construction, composed of employees of ConCreate USL, as the builder to complete the project.
There’s a $5,000-a-day penalty if the project isn’t completed by the end of August, Desroches said, and "this would fall under the responsibility of the bonding company."
Welding is being completed by a subcontractor, Montacier, according to Desroches. Staff at that company and at Horseshoe Hill referred questions to the city.
Desroches said in mid-February that more than 70 per cent of the project had been completed.
"I’m disappointed that the welding is taking some considerable time, but we are putting tremendous pressure on the contractor and on the bonding company," he said on Friday.
City engineers have told him that the welding that needs additional work is "not a question of poor workmanship," Desroches said.
"The welding testing is very sophisticated and very sensitive, and it is a normal part of the process that you test your welds and do additional welding based on the tests that come in," he said.
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