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September 21, 2018

Saskatchewan bridge that collapsed six hours after opening was built without geotech investigation of riverbed


The Reeve of the rural municipality of Clayton says the bridge that collapsed six hours after it opened was built without having geotechnical investigation done on the riverbed it stood on. A bridge building expert calls that approach “irregular.” 

The Dyck Memorial Bridge, located in the RM of Clayton about 300 kilometres east of Saskatoon, collapsed Friday shortly after it was opened.

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RM of Clayton Reeve Duane Hicks told CBC he believes the contractor and engineer did everything right and this was an “act of God.”

“It seems like something under the riverbed let go and a row of pilings sunk,” Hicks said. “I don’t know who to blame but I figure God built most of this for us.”

He said the issue was with five underwater pilings and “the whole five of them just went straight down. Boom. Four feet.”

“So something tells me that something underneath the ground happened. I don’t know what it was. They don’t know what it was. Nobody knows what it is.”

Hicks said a geotechnical study of the riverbed wasn’t done before the bridge was built. Inertia, the engineering company for the project, declined to answer media questions and referred calls to the RM.

Initially, Hicks told CBC the geotech work wasn’t done because it’s not possible to do that work under the river.

“You can’t drill through water,” he said. “You can’t do it. You can’t take underground samples.”

He said people in the industry he spoke to told him standard practice was to drill holes on each shore and assume the soil under the river would be the same.

“All the bridge people that we’ve talked to since this has happened indicate that’s what they do,” said Hicks. He said he is not sure if Inertia did drill holes on the shore when building the Dyck Memorial bridge.

Paul Gauvreau, a bridge-building expert from the University of Toronto, disputes Hicks’s claim.

Keep reading on CBC News


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