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Engineer group to investigate Nipigon River Bridge failure

Investigation could result in discipline for licensed engineers
The Nipigon River Bridge under construction in 2015

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has launched an investigation related to last January’s failure of the Nipigon River Bridge.

“As a regulator, it’s our responsibility to investigate any possible engineering practice deficiencies related to the failure and determine if engineering work was carried out by appropriately licensed people and companies,” said PEO registrar Gerard McDonald, P.Eng, in a release.

“This investigation is consistent with our mandate to govern PEO licence and certificate of authorization holders, and regulate and advance professional engineering practice to protect the public interest.”

According to the PEO, PEO licence or certificate of authorization holders could be disciplined as a result of the investigations.

The Nipigon River Bridge is a cable-stayed structure, spanning 252 metres over the Nipigon River, and is part of the Trans-Canada Highway.

On January 10, the eastern section of the bridge rose two feet, creating a backlog of traffic along the highway.

Through an earlier investigation, the Ontario government found the malfunction stemmed from three factors:

  • the design of the shoe plate and its flexibility
  • a lack of rotation in the bearing that was constructed
  • improperly tightened bolts attaching the girder to the shoe plate

Wind and cold temperatures have been ruled out.

With repair work still ongoing, the bridge bill is expected to come in somewhere between $8 million and $12 million.