(NIPIGON, ON) – On Friday, May 25th, 2018, the temporary expansion joint bolt anchors failed, according to an employee of the bridge construction, who wishes to remain anonymous. We will refer to our anonymous source as “John Smith” from here on out.
A common myth perpetuated on social media and coffee shop talks is that the bridge was designed by a foreign individual who has no clue about the Canadian climate and that there are many design flaws surrounding the bridge. “Nothing else on the bridge is wrong. A Canadian engineer designed it and Canadian engineers approved it and it failed” – says John Smith in an interview with TRCCTB.COM.
The failure on Friday, May 25th, 2018, was not due to poor design, temperature variances, or poor engineering, but rather was due to the temporary finger plates/anchor bolts being used, and their longevity.
”The permanent finger plates are hefty and stronger built, but taller by 100mm so they cant go on until the deck has its top coat of pavement put down and finished. Once we transfer traffic to the other lanes we will be able to place asphalt and the real permanent joint” Smith said. What Smith is referring to, is that the final layer of pavement has not been put down yet, and that the metal finger plate (pictured below) is a temporary one, that is weaker, and not as tall as the final plate that gets put in after the final layer of pavement is installed.
You can see in the photo above, that the anchor bolts are missing on the right-hand side of the metal finger plate. The loader is holding the plate down, so that crews may begin work. The repair was made quickly and involved installing new anchor bolts.
“The deck did not lift at all. It was just the plate traffic uses that came loose so we have to maintain it” Smith continues to explain”The steel is designed for temporary use 6-months to 1-year. Because they have now been there much longer the pounding from the constant traffic is slowly wearing the temporary concrete and temporary bolts”
When asked about the likelihood of the temporary finger plates anchor bolts failing again, Smith said “The temporary fingerplates won’t need maintenance anymore because the permanent plates will go in very soon. The recent event was a case of simple routine maintenance”
Smith is expecting the bridge to be wrapped up very soon, stating it is “in its last stages of construction now”
“The crappy part is that it happened after hours so we had to call a crew in to fix them up and perform our scheduled maintenance earlier than expected,” claims Smith.
Mayor of Nipigon Wrong On The Radio
Smith goes on to discuss all the misinformation being spread around about the recent incident with the finger plate anchor bolts on the expansion joint failing “Even the mayor of Nipigon was on the radio saying the wrong thing” Smith continues “Its like he just lied to everyone because he should be stating facts not opinions as facts”
The bridge deck did not lift, it was the finger plate that was slightly out of place due to the anchor bolts failing. Smith goes on to scold the Mayor of Nipigon for what he said to area radio stations “He was going on about investigations when there is nothing to investigate. I was there myself working on the temporary joint to make sure it is safe to use. It (the finger plate) lifted because the bolts are temporary due to the fact that there is no asphalt on the deck”
“I don’t understand why the mayor of Nipigon spoke at all. This is not his bridge” Smith says sternly “It belongs to the provincial government not the township of Nipigon”. (An earlier version of this article stated “federal government” not “provinical government”, John Smith corrected the slip of the tongue mistake.)
The Previous Bridge Failure
We asked Smith what went wrong when the bridge deck lifted last year, and his response was “The MTO has it.all on their government site. Very accurately depicting the portion that was under-designed and failed.”
The “Permanent Retrofit” link is the solution that will stop the bridge deck from lifting again, like it did in 2016.
Smith then provided us with the link, and we have the report available below.
Ministry of Transportation Report – Nipigon River Bridge Failure 2016
On September 22, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation provided an update on the investigation into the Nipigon River Bridge after it was unexpectedly closed earlier this year. The Minister of Transportation provided a Joint Statement on Nipigon River Bridge. More information and links to the full reports can be found on this page.
This year the Ministry will install a permanent retrofit over the winter that will allow the bridge to continue to function safely and reliably.
Bolt testing reports
- National Research Council Canada “Evaluation of Failed Nipigon River Bridge West Abutment Bolts” – Executive Summary (PDF – 158 KB)
- National Research Council Canada “Evaluation of Failed Nipigon River Bridge West Abutment Bolts” – Full Report (PDF – 15.9 MB)
- Surface Science Western “Report on the Evaluation of the Bolts Provided by MTO” – Executive Summary (PDF – 94.7 KB)
- Surface Science Western “Report on the Evaluation of the Bolts Provided by MTO” – Full Report (PDF – 126 MB)
- Associated Engineering “Nipigon River Bridge Independent Technical Review” – Executive Summary(PDF – 771 KB)
- Associated Engineering “Nipigon River Bridge Independent Technical Review” – Full Report (PDF – 4.89 MB)
- Ministry of Transportation “Nipigon River Bridge West Abutment Bearing Technical Investigation” – Executive Summary (PDF – 126 KB)
- Ministry of Transportation “Nipigon River Bridge West Abutment Bearing Technical Investigation” – Full Report (PDF – 7.22 MB)
- Note: this report contains large diagrams. Please save this file and open it in Acrobat Reader for best results.
- Nipigon River Bridge – Bolt Testing Results (PDF – 53 KB)
- Nipigon River Bridge – Investigation (PDF – 1514 KB)
- Nipigon River Bridge – Permanent Retrofit (PDF – 258 KB)
“It’s nuts what some internet experts and trolls say, sad actually,” Smith says in reference to the ongoing myths, and bashing of the contractors involved in the construction of the bridge. “I love that bridge and all other bridges I worked on plus the ones I didn’t work on. It is a disgusting sickness to see the negativity shown by the masses on something that is so critically important to develop”
“The Spanish constructors Ferrovial from Spain are no different than any other constructors I feel bad how everyone bashes on them” Smith explains passionately “We as Canadians need to be more proud of all we build and our investments in infrastructure. Nothing is ever perfect. Nothing ever will be. But the bashing is childish and ridiculous”
“This bridge is not just for the locals, but for the future of Canadian road safety”
You can read the article about the finger plate failure below:
(NIPIGON, ON) - The Nipigon River Bridge has malfunctioned, again, this time on the east side of the bridge. The ministry of transportation and contractors…
With files from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.