Thursday, January 3, 2013

BC Liberal`s Port Mann Bridge.

It only took a cursory look to find the information needed for this post, a story about ice build up on bridge surfaces but after reviewing the data and thinking about it, there is a much bigger story hidden, lurking, snatching lives and stealing futures, mourning families and victims litter our province, and it can be prevented, and or at least, reduced..


Why do bridges ice before the rest of the highway?

­On a cold, rainy day, ice forms more quickly on bridges and overpasses for two reasons:
  • The freezing wind strikes the bridge above and below and on both sides, so it's losing heat from every side. The road is only losing heat from its surface. Even while the temperature on the road surface is dropping, the heat underneath the road keeps it warm enough to prevent icing as temperatures in the atmosphere drop below freezing. Bridges have no way to trap any heat, so they will continually lose heat and freeze shortly after temperatures in the atmosphere hit the freezing point.
  • Most bridges today are built with steel and concrete, both of which are good heat conductors. Because these materials conduct heat, any heat that the bridge has moves through the bridge to the surface where the heat is lost through the air flow around it. Roads are mostly made from asphalt, which is a poor conductor of heat, and that lessens the rate of heat loss from the road.
­The bottom line is that a bridge will follow the air temperature very closely. If the air temperature falls below freezing, a bridge's surface will fall below freezing very quickly. Rain or snow, therefore, will freeze and stick to the bridge.
The Oregon State Department of Transportation advises motorists to slow down when approaching bridges and overpasses while traveling in cold weather. Often times you can't see the ice on the road, and it may be hidden beneath a thin blanket of snow. If, while traveling over a bridge, your car feels like it's floating, you should gradually slow down to maintain control of the vehicle. N­ever slam on your brakes.


 So now we know that any road maintenance contractor is well aware of these basic facts too, and I don`t know about you, but I have seen these signs all over Vancouver island as you approach bridges and man-made crossings..

 Bridges often accumulate ice before roads do.


Do Vancouver drivers speed, yea, like all drivers in all countries people travel too fast for road conditions, speed limit signs post speeds of travel, those limits apply to dry streets with full visibility, not to foggy slippery streets, but human nature will always push and there is no vehicle guage that tells you how much to slowdown in less than optimum conditions.

 However, this was not the case, when we have bad streets and highways cars and trucks would have slid off the roads on either side of the Port Mann bridge too, in other words, it someone was off the highway in Langley, Abbotsford, Clearbrook, if motorists had seen carnage and slippage well before the Port Mann bridge natural instincts take over(for most) and speed of travel slows..

 Drivers did not start their journey Thursday morning on the bridge deck, drivers, many had driven 10 miles, 20, 40, 60 miles before arriving at the Port Mann bridge and roads conditions were fair to good, not until drivers laid rubber on the Port Mann bridge did they encounter hidden black ice..Whammo, 40 cars in accidents between 6:00 am and 7:00 am...The road surface on the bridge froze...

Now one would think that after the ice-bomb incident the Government wouldn`t want to receive another black-eye...You`ld be wrong...

The British Columbia corporation in charge of the bridge was slow to comment on the cause of today`s icing up incident, they finally spoke..


Port Mann Bridge not sufficiently de-iced

  40 vehicles involved in crashes, according to police


Officials say the new Port Mann Bridge — which saw a slew of accidents Thursday morning, including one 10-car pile-up — wasn't sufficiently de-iced.
Max Logan with the Transportation Investment Corporation, the company that runs the bridge, said the brine solution used to de-ice the bridge wasn't strong enough.
The solution should have lasted about 48 hours, but it stopped being effective at about 5 a.m. PT.
Logan said the bridge was monitored six times between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 5 a.m. Thursday, and the ice built up some time between 5 and 6 a.m.
However, that was just one factor that led to the accidents which backed up traffic in both directions during the morning commute.
Logan said motorists driving too fast for the conditions and limited visibility due to fog also contributed.


 There it is, the corporation is blaming the sub-contractor for using a road de-icing brine that was too weak, ....Or did they?

Not really, that little statement from our BC Liberal Government is all over the map, actually, the statement from Government has multiple excuses

  • They state the brine wasn`t strong enough.

  • They state that the brine should have lasted 48 hours..

  • They state the brine suddenly stopped being effective at 5am..

  • They state drivers were going too fast and visibility and fog were contributing factors also.  

    What a load of bullshit, did anybody get speeding tickets?, charged with reckless driving, driving without due care and control?

    The answer to that is no, this was pure incompetence on behalf of the road maintenance contractor, or is it, roads and bridges have been salted for decades, this is not new technology..

    This exposes the bigger problem, a micro-example of conditions on our roads and highways province wide..Outsourcing road maintenance

    When the ministry of highways was in house, when the BC Government and Government employees maintained all the roads in the Province every road was maintained not to minimum standards but maintained to levels  of safety...

    Roads crews worked 24/7 around the province, main highways and bi-ways had 24/7 road crews, roads were salted, pot holes got fixed, the workers weren`t thinking about the cost their aim was safety, it didn`t matter..

     But along came right-wing British Columbia Social Credit and BC Liberal Governments who privatized/outsourced road maintenance and road safety, road standards on the Coquihalla highway and numerous other highways are deplorable, under maintained and have more accidents, more tragic accidents all because Governments thought they could save money, it still isn`t clear if outsourcing road maintenance saves Governments any money, but one thing has been proven, maintenance contractor`s bottom line is profits, and profits increase by doing as little as possible, this practice has led to the deaths of countless people, shattered countless lives..

    And what happened today is proof of just that, look at what was said, brine wasn`t strong enough, brine stopped working right at morning rush hour 5:00am , brine should have lasted 48 hours....Which is it, there are three excuses in 1 paragraph...

    The Port Mann corporation claims this will never happen again, weather reports are the same tonight as last evening, evening and morning fog with temperatures falling to freezing level.

    What this incident and the ice bomb incident proves is the Port Mann was built to minimum standards, ice and snow built up on cables and fell on workers building the Port Mann bridge, the builders knew this was an issue but because of money they did nothing but hoped and prayed, other bridges built with cables have had these ice-bombs incidents as well, the builder, Kiewit flatiron group took a chance by not installing heat on the cables or employing other techniques to prevent ice and snow build up, why???..MONEY MONEY MONEY

    It`s apparently in their contract, was Kiewit Flatiron gambling on global warming, or no snow, Mary Polak said on air that the responsibility for ice and snow build up was in Kiewit`s contract, so why did they cheap out?....Mary Polak and the Port Mann bridge BC Crown corporation are again blaming another contractor, a sub-contractor..

    News flash, when you outsource road maintenance, when you outsource hospital cleaning, when you leave the decision making and constructing of ice build-up preventative measures into a $2 billion dollar bridge at the discretion of the builder, road de-icing at the discretion of the road-maintenance contractor, hospital cleaning hours at the discretion of the outsourcee, when a company makes more money by doing less, whereas a contractor loses more money and or makes less money by doing more work or more needed maintenance, you set up a scenario where the least amount of work is done to maximize profits, and that situation kills, and British Columbia is lucky no one was killed today, very very lucky..

    Human nature, like those drivers they say were driving too fast for road conditions, human nature, when your boss hollers at you for doing your job, when profit motives outweigh safety requirements..

     Human nature, our big snowfall 2 weeks ago, all through the lower mainland main arteries like Boundary road, Broadway, Grandview highway, hastings and many many more were untouched, no plowing, cities like Vancouver make choices to spend as little as possible on sand, on salt, wear and tear on vehicles, if cities don`t have to plow they won`t, they push the limit of what`s safe..

    Remember the Aveos/Aeroman story we broke, outsourcing maintenance, it`s the same issue, read this shocker about Boeing, a story about shocking outsourcing results as to maintenance, and you`ll see the story leads directly to what Air Canada is doing(with Stephen Treason Harper`s blessing and help) in El Salvador 


 An American Airlines (PINK:AAMRQ) 757 made an emergency landing yesterday at JFK after a row of passenger seats came loose, mid-flight.

“A row of seats basically became unbolted from the floor. The seats were completely not attached,” Sam Mayer, an AA pilot and a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told the New York Post.

The plane landed safely and no one was hurt. But if your first reaction was, “Thank God it was only the seats,” keep reading.

“We’ve had two diverts and a series of write-ups about the same problem with 757s,” Tom Hoban, an American Airlines First Officer and a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, tells me. “They used to go to American maintenance facilities in Fort Worth and Tulsa but now they go to an outside vendor; our guys tell us the work is pretty shoddy.”

Indeed, American’s 757 maintenance is being outsourced. And the work is, by all accounts, pretty shoddy. According to one AA insider, the same shoddy workmanship that caused a row of seats to “slid[e] around like a carnival ride” is also going into the most critical parts of the aircraft.

“The company is called TIMCO,” Larry Pike, a veteran American Airlines mechanic and president of the Transport Workers Union Local 567 in Fort Worth, Texas, tells me. “And the same people who forgot to bolt down the seats are also working on the engines.”

Pike says he “won’t fly on an American Airlines 757 and will not allow my family to, either.”

“The pilots who went to pick up some of the first ones TIMCO did said they weren’t even airworthy,” Pike tells me. “I read the reports, just unbelievable -- the cockpits were a shambles, there was leaking oil, brake lines leaking fluid, lines left loose; our pilots refused to take them -- and these planes were coming out of an overhaul. It’s like shade tree mechanics working on a car, only they’re working on aircraft.”

An Industry-Wide Crisis

The problems associated with the outsourcing of aircraft maintenance is not limited to one airline or one plane.

“This is not just American, it’s industry-wide,” says Tom Hoban. “The biggest heavy maintenance facilities are in El Salvador and China and there’s essentially no real daily oversight there. You don’t have A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) certified mechanics, there’s a lack of quality assurance programs, and you’re at the mercy of how that particular facility is run, and you really have no idea as to what kind of maintenance actually occurred. The only time you have any actual visual assessment is when you have an in-flight emergency. And we pilots are the ones left holding the bag.”

Why is this happening? Money. A recent study in the Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering quoted industry experts who estimated two-thirds of heavy maintenance costs are labor costs.

“With foreign labor costs less than 50% of those in the US, it is easy to see why many air carriers have shifted their HMV (Heavy Maintenance Visits) to overseas providers, with estimated savings at $1 million per aircraft each year,” the authors of the paper wrote. A 2008 audit by the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General identified nine carriers -- Continental Airlines (NYSE:UAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU), Southwest (NYSE:LUV), United, AirTran, Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK), America West (PINK:AWSR), and Northwest -- that outsourced 71% of their heavy airframe maintenance checks in 2007. About 27% of these heavy airframe repairs were outsourced overseas. Drilling down a bit deeper, approximately 20% of airplanes are being maintained in developing countries – like El Salvador, where mechanics start at under $5,000 a year, compared to the US average of $52,000.

However, as the authors of the Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering study also noted, “Outsourcing of aircraft maintenance is a business critical activity with regard to strategic importance and finances. What makes outsourcing of aircraft maintenance unique is that lives are potentially at risk if maintenance is not done properly.”


Here was my viral report on Air Canada and its Canadian betrayal

The proof is out there, I wrote last month in a post how potholes and roads are under maintained, left un-repaired for years in rural BC..Even $2.3 billion dollar bridges are now getting short-changed..

People are dying on our highways because contractors have sharp pencils and bigger profits is a strong motivator,  Governments should design maintenance contracts under a cost-plus basis, why should contractors be forced or be allowed to short-change safety maintenance on our highways, bigger profits by doing less work arrangement will continue to cost lives..

Heck, even a $2.3 billion dollar bridge contract couldn`t keep "ice-bombs and black ice build up" out of the profit equation..


The Straight Goods

Cheers Eyes Wide Open






Don F. said...

Hi Grant,
I keep asking myself one glaring question that, even with all their blame games and explanations of physics of road vs. bridge, no one dares address is,
Asking that question kind of renders all these scientific explanations they give worthless!
There is obviously something lacking or different about this bridge than all others on the lower mainland.
In fact I have been driving for about 45 years now and have never heard or seen anything of this nature before.
People should avoid using this bridge until they come clean and do whatever it takes to solve this problem, don't trust them of this folks!!

Hugh said...

Here's what they need to do: wire the bridge cables with heating wire to prevent ice bombs. Then wire the roadway with heating wire as well. On really bad days just get propane heat blasters going the whole length of the bridge.

e.a.f. said...

I am just waiting for the damm thing to fall down. I am sure it will. We either have an earthquake it can't stand up to, but the older bridges do survive or weight on it one day will go over what it can hold during a bad freeze up & down it comes. This bridge was not built as well as other bridges have been, i.e. the old Port Mann. I do hope they keep the old bridge for emergencies, especially the one, where the new bridge caves in.

The companies which hold the contracts to clean highways sub contract them out. These sub contracters then sub contract. Each takes a cut of the money but only the guy at the bottom of the pile does the work. They do the min.

Highway mainteance should go back to the government. There hasn't been a decently cleaned highway since it was privitized.

Don F. said...

Grant, this is interesting and required reading to understand the background on this project:

Grant G said...

I`ll do one better Don, I`ll post the whole article..By the way, this was reported here, way back when..

Part 1

Engineer questions the decision to replace Port Mann bridge


staff writer

"The plan to twin the Port Mann Bridge near Vancouver, B.C. would have been a much cheaper option than building a new single span, says the award winning Dutch engineer, who designed and supervised the construction of the existing structure.

“The expected life of the Port Mann Bridge was in the order of a hundred years,” said Gerrit Hardenberg, who was employed by CBA Engineering Ltd. as a senior structural engineer during the construction of the existing bridge between 1957 and 1964.

“As I understand it, the bridge was thoroughly examined in about 1995 and considered to be in excellent condition and expected to provide service for many more years.”

The original plan to improve the flow of traffic over the Fraser River between Coquitlam to Surrey involved twinning the bridge with another crossing to the west of the existing span.

However, former premier Gordon Campbell unveiled plans for a new 10-lane superbridge on Feb 4, 2009.

Max Logan, director of communications for the Transportation Investment Corporation, which is involved with the Port Mann/Highway 1 Project, explained the decision.

“As part of the competitive selection process, the incremental costs associated with constructing a new 10-lane bridge and the costs associated with maintaining the existing bridge for another 40 years were reviewed,” he said.

“It was concluded that a new bridge saves almost $200 million in avoided seismic upgrades and operations, maintenance and rehabilitation costs. Conversely, the incremental costs of building a new 10-lane bridge - instead of a new five-lane bridge for the twinning option – were estimated at $180 million. The result is a net benefit over the long term.”

Grant G said...

Part II

"Campbell said that the twinning option would include the cost of the new bridge and the cost of taking the old bridge down as well as replacing it with a new bridge.

In 2009, he said it would cost about $500 million.

Hardenberg was astonished when he found out about the B.C. government’s decision to replace the Port Mann bridge with a new cable-stayed structure that will open in late 2012 or early 2013.

“I consider the project a waste of money, firstly, because the present bridge has not come at all to the end of its useful life,” he said.

“Hence, I do not understand where the sum of $180 million would be required to give the bridge another 40 years.”

According to Hardenberg, a ball park figure for the twinning option can be calculated by multiplying the cost of the original bridge by the rate of inflation over a 45 year period.

The Port Mann Bridge was officially opened in 1964 and cost $25 million.

Using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) between November 1964 and November 2008, the cost of twinning the bridge should be about $173 million.

This represents a 592 per cent change in price over the 44 year period since the project was completed.

Contractors on the original project included; Perini Pacific Ltd, John Laing and Son, Dominion Bridge Company and the Western Bridge Division of Canada Iron Foundries.

Hardenberg said some money should be added to the $173 million figure to get the existing bridge in top-notch condition.

Once this is done, you have a starting point for comparing the cost of the twinning option with the sums of money that are now being spent to build the single span.

Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited were awarded a $2.46 billion fixed-price contract by the B.C. government to design and build the new bridge and to widen Highway 1 for 37 kilometres on the east and west sides of the Fraser River.

The $2.46 million figure is for the entire bridge and highway expansion project.

The government hasn’t released bridge specific construction costs.

However, Logan said the bridge accounts for about a third of the total project cost.

This works out to about $820 million.

The final cost is $3.3 billion, which includes operating and maintenance, rehabilitation and financing costs.

“I think that the final decision for the project is influenced by the desire to save the government the trouble of financing the whole scheme by cunningly replacing a free bridge with a toll bridge,” said Hardenberg.

“Politically, this transition seems easier if you go for a completely new scheme and remove the old bridge.”

The government initially reached an agreement-in-principle with Connect BC Development Group for a public-private partnership (P3) for the construction of the new bridge on Jan. 28, 2009.

However, the consortium, which included Macquarie Group, Transtoll Inc., Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited, couldn’t get financing.

When negotiations with MacQuarie collapsed, the government changed the procurement process from a P3 to the traditional design and build model.

The project wasn’t put back out to tender."

Hardenberg won an award of design excellence from the National Design Council and the Department of Industry in Ottawa for the creative use of structural steel in the design of the existing Port Mann Bridge.

Anonymous said...

Is the manufacturer of this bridge, the same manufacturer of the new 520 sinking, (and not) floating bridge in Seattle?

Anonymous said...

Do you want to outsource your aircraft repairs to this outfit??

09/05/2007 05:10 PM ID: 64726 Permalink

Nepalese Airline Repairs Aircraft With Goat Sacrifice

Nepal: The national state-run airline has taken a somewhat unusual approach to solving the technical difficulties being experienced by one of their aircraft by sacrificing a pair of goats to the Hindu sky god Akash Bhairab.

Shortly after the sacrifice, which occurred at Kathmandu airport with full Hindu ceremony, Raju KC, from Nepal Airlines, announced that "the snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights."

The issue with one of the airline's two Boeing 757 had been rumoured by local media to be an electrical problem. A number of services were unable to operate due to the aircraft being grounded.*

Last thing I want to see while peering out the window during pushback is some dude dancing around the plane with feathers around his ankles, waving a smudge pot, bone beads and wearing mechanic overalls....

Anonymous said...

Private road maintenance has steadily gone downhill since it was sourced out. A couple of winters ago we had a huge snowfall before Xmas time. Way to deep to travel in without plowing, no matter what vehicle you had. The contractor has three days to clear side roads. Well they never showed up for days on end. Everyone was calling them to find out why they were not coming to plow our road so we could get out. They finally came on the 11th day after the snowfall. It was a long walk out down a lot of hills so most people were stuck at home for that amount of time. The rumour was that they ran out of money at the end of the year and waited until after new years so they would get paid to do it.
Our contractors never live up to the standards that are set out.