This begins with the cable-stayed Nipigon River Bridge which failed six weeks after it opened (only half built). This bridge was budgeted at $106 million and in January of 2017, the Province of Ontario said that the repair work (permanent retrofit) will cost anywhere from $8 – $12 million.
In mid-April of this year, construction on the centre pier was halted after a concrete bridge deck fell while being hoisted from the ground to deck level. Does this mean more costs?
There is no information on costs in what had to be expensive testing and investigation into the components that failed, and the successive reports that were written to determine the cause.
Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has launched an investigation to determine whether or not there were acts of professional misconduct or incompetence by the engineers or engineering companies involved, but there has been nothing released to the public.
There has been NO determination from the Ontario Government who is responsible for the additional costs for the Nipigon River Bridge; or what the actual additional costs are.
Another recent bridge with huge uncontrolled costs is the new cable-stayed Vancouver Port Mann Bridge. Shockingly it has cost 10 times what it would have cost if the existing Arch Bridge had been twinned. In February 2009, it was announced that the BC government would foot the entire cost, $2.4 Billion, because the public-private partnership (P3) process had collapsed. Today, the tolls have been cancelled, further adding to the British Columbia taxpayer burden.
Cost of original Arch Bridge in 1964 was $25 million.
Cost of Cable Stayed Bridge in 2017 is $3 billion. (More recently reported to be $3.3 billion).
Inflation Factor: $100CDN in 1964 becomes $786CDN in 2017, or 8 times (= $200 million).
Add a generous safety factor of $100 million and cost of twinning is $300 million – not the reported $3 billion.
The engineer, Gerrit Hardenberg who designed and supervised the construction of the Port Mann Bridge questioned the decision to replace it.
The proposed Gordie Howe international Bridge, another cable-stayed bridge, is pegged to cost $4 billion plus – and these costs continues to rise; concerningly, all the properties needed have not yet been acquired!
The existing Ambassador Bridge was completed in 1929 for $23.5 million (1% under budget).
Inflation Factor: $100 in 1929 is $1387 in 2017 or approximately 14 times the 1929 number.
A first approximation of the cost of twinning the Ambassador bridge is 14 X 23.5 = $329 million, not the reported $4 billion++, which is more than 10 times the cost of twinning the Ambassador Bridge?
In all three cases (Nipigon, Port Mann, and Ambassador), the bridges could have been twinned with the existing bridge; taking advantage of a design that was proven, cut costs, and been far more attractive to the taxpayers’s pocket.
The fundamental problem appears to be political. It is the selection of a signature or iconic cable-stayed bridge. It costs at least 10 times that of a conventional bridge.
The solution (it is not too late) is to allow competing bridge designs for the proposed cable-stayed Gordie Howe Internatonal Bridge – as was done successfully with the beautiful twinning of the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia/Port Huron – just a few miles upsteam.