20 February 2008

The 18 + bridges/trestles

Update:  For a complete picture, cross-reference the list in this post with the bridges mentioned in the provincial government's Tuesday release.  You will see several discrepancies noted in an earlier Bond Papers post:

1.  Of the 18 bridges originally identified by Transport Canada

-  three have failed provincial government safety inspections (Howley River, Mary Ann(e) Brook and Robaires River East); and,

-  two have passed (Eel Brook appears to have had its decking replaced;  Stephenville Main East was passed but there is no indication of what TC originally found).

2.  The remainder have not yet been inspected.

3.  The provincial government Tuesday news release makes at least two mistakes:

-  It consistently, incorrectly refers to 14 bridges from Transport Canada when in fact there were 18 named specifically.  The release actually identifies 17 bridges as having been mentioned by TC.

-  It includes main Brook as a bridge mentioned by TC.  Main Brook is not on the 11 Feb Transport Canada list.

4.  Provincial inspections have found one additional problem bridge (Black Duck Brook).

5.  One bridge on the TC list is identified as "gone" meaning it doesn't exist.  The provincial release makes no notice of this.  It also does not explain why the T'Railways website lists 132 bridges and trestles while the department's news release refers to only 125.

Update, update:  The Telegram carried a list of the 14 bridges in its story on Saturday, 16 February.  When a link turns up, we'll post it.  Bond Papers obtained its information from another source.

Original post continues:

Bond Papers has obtained a list of the 18 bridges and trestles identified in a letter from Transport Canada to the provincial government as posing a hazard to the public.

Transport Canada officials noted that the list of bridges on non-navigable waters was not considered definitive. They referred to a significant number of structures inspected being in advanced state of disrepair. They also stated that they had not conducted a detailed structural analysis of the bridges and trestles.

Altogether, officials of the navigable waters protection program inspected 109 structures to determine which fell under the Navigable Waters Protection Act. They found 42 in total fell under the Act.

Transport Canada identified 18 which showed structural problems and requested the provincial environment department prepare a plan to repair or remove the structures as they posed a public hazard. Fourteen fell under the NWPA while four were not. The Monis Brook bridge is identified by Transport Canada as "gone".

The environment department closed all 132 bridges and trestles on the T'Railway entirely on its own initiative on February 14 and began its own program of inspections.

It is unclear from provincial government statements if all 132 bridges and trestles are being subjected to a detailed structural analysis or if that work is being confined to the 18 specified by Transport Canada.

The 18 bridges and trestles are:

  1. Robinson River East
  2. Middle Brook
  3. Little River
  4. Barry Brook
  5. Bear Cove (Old Bridge)
  6. Robaires River East
  7. Codroy Branch South
  8. Howley River
  9. Mary Ann Brook
  10. North Brook
  11. Robinson Brook East
  12. Main East
  13. Fishells River
  14. Journis Brook
  15. Eel Brook - deck gone
  16. Wolfe Brook – Abutments
  17. Codroy Branch North – Multiple pipes abutment
  18. Monis Brook – gone

A news release issued late Tuesday by environment minister Charlene Johnson and tourism minister Clyde Jackman (a former environment minister) erroneously refers to 14 bridges identified by Transport Canada as posing public safety issues.

The provincial government release indicates that Eel Brook has been cleared by provincial inspectors, however it is interesting to note that the Transport Canada inspection only noted the absence of decking for this structure. An ongoing decking project by the T'railways Council may have dealt with that issue after the federal inspection was completed.

The provincial government has closed Howley River, Mary Ann(e) Brook and Robaires River East, thereby confirming the Transport Canada engineers' assessment. As well, the province has closed Black Duck Brook bridge.

There is a discrepancy between the Transport Canada list and the provincial government's new release. The release states:

The trestles at Stephenville Main East and Main Brook were two of the structures identified by Transport Canada; however, engineers have determined them safe and they are re-opened to the public.

Main East is identified as structure number 12 in the list above. There is no mention at all of Main Brook in Transport Canada's February 11 correspondence.