Sunday, October 01, 2006

Overpass collapse kills 5


Five people were killed when a highway overpass collapsed in Laval, north of Montreal, sending tonnes of concrete onto two cars, police said on Sunday.

In 2000, an overpass under construction collapsed, killing one man. Inspectors are now checking all bridges in the area to make sure they are sound.

The Quebec government will hold a public inquiry into the incident and has announced it has closed a second overpass of similar design and age.
But the same story says the collapsed overpass was just inspected!

And now, a look back: from 2000:

A highway overpass in Quebec was so weak when it crumbled last June, killing one, that the wind could have blown it over, according to a report.

An engineering report on the incident, tabled by Quebec Transport Minister Guy Chevrette, concluded that anything from high winds to vibrations from passing traffic could have caused the overpass' eight concrete supports to cave in.

A structural system should have been installed to prevent the shifting of supports during construction, the study stated.

The accident killed one and injured two others. The report stopped short of placing blame, however.

Beaver Asphalt, the City of Laval and a supervising company were all involved in the overpass' construction. While determining who was ultimately responsible will be up to the coroner and judicial authorities, politicians are already assigning blame.

Thomas Mulcair, a member of the Liberal Opposition in Quebec, said the Bloc Quebecois government helped Beaver Asphalt get the contract when it contacted its main creditor, the National Bank.

Premier Lucien Bouchard has denied the charge.

I'd like to know what was in the concrete and whether core samples were taken in 2000? Will they do so now? Who was the unnamed supervisory company and is it the same company that pronounced the just-collapsed overpass fit just a month ago?

It rouses my suspicions. Is someone pocketing money and using substandard material? Did the same companies get the contracts for all the overpasses being looked at? Did the 2000 collapse change the way contracts were awarded?

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