The Saga of a Bridge

History & Plans   Construction 2011   Construction 2012   Construction 2014   Epilogue

2013 construction
1 January:

the top of the tower is wrapped, ready to pour concrete except for the truss attachment assembly that goes on the top; city project management has moved up a level to Carina Duclos P.Eng., manager, special infrastructure projects

construction offices have been moved to the west side of the parkway

17 January: Ottawa Sun: Budget For Airport Pkwy. Bridge More Than $5M

6 February:


slowing of airport parkway traffic begins with construction of formwork for the bridge deck over the road. Work on the deck east of the road can't begin until the top half of the tower can be poured and cured so the tower scaffolding can be removed. Questions as to why traffic on the parkway is being impeded so early go unanswered

16 February:

the parkway is closed overnight to erect supports for bridge deck formwork; they must stay until the upper tower can accept the weight of the deck, the support trusses are installed and the deck itself is cured completely

29 March:

work is on pause waiting for the truss attachment assembly for the top of the tower to be built, tested and installed. In line with the 50-year design lifetime of the bridge, it will be galvanized as a complete assembly, with oven-cured paints on top of that. Of course, it should have been ready last November, when the tower was ready to be poured. It later turns out that the unit produced by Bray's first choice of fabricator was unusable; a second fabricator only began work in February, well after the slowing of parkway traffic began

24 April:
Ottawa Sun: Councillor wants city to get tough on slow developers that cost taxpayers

27 April:

the bridge appears on Google Earth for the first time

17 May:

the truss attachment assembly has arrived and is being installed - it looks like a recipe for vibration stress concentration at the ends of the trusses

10 June:

clearly, specifications for alignment of the attachment assembly have been made tighter: the rigidity of the falsework has been increased to provide higher precision of alignment. The forest of new blue support jacks can be seen here as well as new front tension wires. The workers are using mallets to adjust the attachment assembly position; no fine adjustment mechanism was included in the Genivar design. It later transpires that it is only now that Bray realized that the Genivar design can't be constructed

the rigidity of the scaffolding under the upper tower has been increased as well

13 June:
most of the top tower is poured; the truss attachment itself is left free awaiting final assembly

18 June:

the truss attachment assembly undergoes final adjustment for formwork settling under the mass of the concrete as surveyors keep watch

22 June:
Ottawa Sun: Curse of the Ottawa bridges

25 June:
The Vancouver bridge-engineering firm Buckland & Taylor is secretly engaged by the city for a 3rd-party review of the bridge design

19 July:
Tomlinson (Cumberland Ready Mix) sues Bray for $244,000 for the faulty concrete for which it wasn't paid

22 July:

at last: the top formwork is off, dismantling of the scaffolding begins

25 July:

scaffolding gone, completion of deck formwork can begin

10 August:

deck formwork through the tower is progressing, slowly

23 August:
The city receives the secret report from Buckland & Taylor

5 September:

the deck formwork sits idle, with none of its rebar or truss attachment pieces on site; it later transpires that the city has secretly terminated the services of the design firm Genivar and has begun negotiations with Delcan, the other firm shortlisted during design evaluation, to take responsibility for the bridge design

24 September:

Google Earth updates its image of the bridge

2 October:
Ottawa Citizen: "A bridge so far, but not very far"
CBC News: Ottawa councillor wants Airport Parkway bridge review
Ottawa Sun: City to order third-party review of Airport Parkway bridge project

3 October:

the painters have been busy - the bridge accents and apparently the support trusses too are to be cottage green, not the sophisticated black and white presented to residents
Ottawa Sun: Airport Pkwy. pedestrian bridge an eyesore and needs independent review says transit chair

4 October:
at 3 pm Friday the city holds a briefing for selected press to present a memorandum to Council:

Nancy Schepers [P.Eng.], Deputy City Manager, Planning and Infrastructure:

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide an update on the status of the Airport Parkway Pedestrian/Cycling Bridge. As a result of a recent engineering analysis on the design and constructability of the bridge, as today, the City has temporarily suspended construction while a new consultant works to identify necessary design modifications to complete the project to the City's satisfaction.

As you will recall, this project involves the construction of an east-west pathway connection between the Hunt Club community and the South East Transitway as well as the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland Pathway system.

As construction progressed this summer, concerns were raised by professional engineers regarding the stay supporting system of the bridge and the constructability of the steel anchorage piece at the top of the tower. Specifically, concerns were raised about the design relating to maintenance and the overall lifecycle of the bridge.

As per our professional engineering obligations, City staff retained an independent, bridge engineering firm, Buckland and Taylor, to investigate the stay supporting system and the steel anchorage piece.

Based on Buckland and Taylor's recommendations, the City directed the consultant, Genivar, to initiate design modifications. Following unproductive discussions with Genivar, the City lost confidence with them and their services were terminated.

At the request of Councillor Maria McRae (Ward Councillor), I will be initiating a comprehensive third party review of the entire bridge project, and its findings will be reported back to the Mayor and will be brought before the Finance and Economic Development Committee. The scope of this review will include identifying areas for improvement to prevent similar problems from reoccurring.

In the meantime, the City has awarded a contract to Delcan Corporation to modify and assume full responsibility for the bridge design. Delcan is undertaking a thorough review of design and construction to date, and will identify the necessary design modifications. The City expects to receive the results of the review by the middle of November and construction will remain suspended until the City receives the results of this review.

The City intends to pursue legal action to recover costs, including but not limited to those related to any delays, claims, design review changes, and construction modifications.

The City remains deeply concerned with the quality and timeliness of work related to this important project and has taken immediate action to ensure this does not happen again.

As previously mentioned, I have directed that a full independent, third-party review of this project be undertaken from inception to completion.

Beyond, this review, the following immediate actions are underway in relation to any upcoming major bridge work:

In accordance with regulatory requirements, the City has informed the Professional Engineers of Ontario of the third-party review undertaken by Buckland and Taylor.

The City will also apprise the Professional Engineers of Ontario of the outcome of the reviews, and ultimately the design modifications.

Staff will continue to closely monitor this project and the City is committed to ensuring the construction of a safe and sustainable bridge.


Ottawa Sun: UPDATE: Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge snafu
CBC News: Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge project suspended
Ottawa Citizen: "Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge construction suspended"
Ottawa Sun: City calls briefing on troubled Airport Pkwy. pedestrian bridge
Ottawa Sun: Family anxious for Airport Pkwy pedestrian bridge completion
CTV News: Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge has design flaw-work suspended

5 October:
Ottawa Sun: City of Ottawa fires Airport Pkwy. bridge designer, halts construction
1310 News: Construction on the Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge has been suspended

7 October:
Bray sues Tomlinson (Cumberland Ready Mix) for $1.29 million for breach of contract and negligence plus $1 million for delay and impact; it also files claim against the city for $333,750 for funds withheld
City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick, Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers (P.Eng.), Manager special infrastructure projects Carina Duclos (P.Eng.) and Councillor Maria McRae attend a meeting of the Hunt Club Community Organization. Mr. Kirkpatrick admits that the city was late in identifying problems in the construction and concerns about the design, and apologizes for the effect of the bridge debacle on the community; Ms. Schepers details steps the city is taking to prevent it from happening again; Councillor McRae restates her determination to get the bridge built and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable; HCCO president John Sankey notes the unique expertise of thousands of retired experts living in the city and recommends that the city find ways of involving them in complex projects like this bridge
Ottawa Business Journal: Engineering concerns halt work on parkway footbridge again
Ottawa Citizen Joanne Chianello: "City needs to answer for pedestrian bridge construction schedule"
Metro News: Simple Airport Parkway foot bridge shouldn't be so much trouble: Engineering professor

15 October:
the Buckland&Taylor report is made public; it finds fault with the bridge design in five critical areas
Ottawa Sun: Airport Pkwy. foot bridge builder Genivar fires back at criticism from city
Ottawa Business Journal: Genivar disputes city's claim it bungled parkway bridge design
Ottawa Citizen: Third-party review reveals design concerns over halted Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge

17 October:
Ottawa Citizen: "The city that can't build bridges"

23 October:
Ottawa Sun: City says Airport Pkwy. pedestrian bridge safe despite design flaws
Ottawa Citizen: "City named in $2.5M countersuit filed by pedestrian bridge contractor"
Ottawa Sun: City of Ottawa sues bridge designer, reveals it knew something was wrong in 2011

24 October:
Ottawa Sun: Airport Pkwy. bridge-savvy engineer would cost $120K
Aggregate Research: City named in $2.5M countersuit filed by pedestrian bridge contractor

25 October:
Ottawa Citizen: "Company fired from Airport Parkway footbridge job working on other city bridge contracts"

7 November:
Ottawa Sun: Diane Deans pushes for path to reopen near half-completed bridge

12 November:
Ottawa Sun: Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge parts to come down
the Sun article is the first indication to the public that Delcan has recommended a material other than concrete for the deck

13 November:
Metro: Traffic headaches as Ottawa dismantles part of Airport Parkway footbridge

16 November:

removal of the suspended-deck formwork begins

19 November: Ottawa Citizen: "Delayed bridge projects justify need for more oversight, councillor says"

21 November:
Ottawa Sun: Airport Bridge fiasco forces temporary closure of Parkway

25 November:

Ottawa Sun: Airport Pkwy. to close again for bridge work
after the first parkway closure, only a few road barriers remain - why a second closure?

30 November:

over 9 months after they were installed, obstructions are removed but the 60 km/hr speed limit remains, not to mention a lot of plastic that will be buried by snow plows if not removed soon

3 December:
Delcan's report is released, together with a report to Council. The deck will now be an orthotropic steel design, one in which the deck is the primary structural member as opposed to the Genivar design whose side beams were the primary structure. There will be normal suspension cables rather than the Genivar rigid truss. The total cost of the bridge will be almost double the original contract due to the fabrication cost of the deck, newly found weakness in the support tower pier design which must be overcome, and cracks in the decks of the already-built approach spans that will be strengthened
The Finance and Economic Development Committee directs the City Clerk and Solicitor to seek recovery from Genivar and any other party of the additional costs associated with the construction delays and necessary changes to the design.
Ottawa Citizen: "New tab for Airport Parkway Bridge more than $10M"
CBC: Mayor wants Airport Parkway bridge review to 'name names' [it didn't]
Ottawa Sun: 'Monumental failure': Airport bridge project to cost extra $4.65M
Ottawa Business Journal: City promises to spend another $4.65M on bridge project fix
Ottawa Business Journal: Genivar-city bridge dispute yields lessons for engineering firms

7 December:
all the mess is removed, and the 80 km/hr limit restored
Ottawa Citizen: "Airport Parkway bridge mess shows city needs way to tell when projects are off the rails, councillor says"

12 December:
Ottawa Sun: City OKs 'best worst solution' to complete the troubled Airport Parkway bridge

Construction 2014