Advisory regarding structural review of private bridges on Crown land

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Engineers investigated following collapse of Elliot Lake Mall

Private bridge on Crown land - Ministry of Natural Resources and ForestryThe Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (Ministry) issued a notice regarding the structural review of portable steel bridges designed by Rock Support Inc. in July 2015, and continues to raise awareness that these types of bridges are typically used on Crown land to access more remote forestry, logging, or mining operations, or seasonal recreational properties.

Rock Support Inc. portable steel bridges were designed and sealed by two professional engineers from M.R. Wright & Associates. The engineers were investigated following the collapse of the Elliot Lake Mall in 2012.

As a result of this serious event and subsequent investigation, the Ministry proactively retained the services of a third-party independent engineering consultant to review all of the engineering projects the engineers were involved with for the Ministry, specifically design drawings currently on file for Rock Support Inc. bridges (20 ft., 30 ft., 40 ft., 60 ft. lengths). 

"Ministry engineers knew it was important to initiate an independent review of the RSI bridge design, especially given that the people who designed the bridges were being investigated,” says Mike Cartan, Regional Services Manager for Northeast Region. “Our review focused on load-carrying capacity of the bridges to meet both Highway Code and Ministry Guideline.” The review determined Rock Support Inc. bridges did not meet code standards.

According to the Ministry, all bridges on Crown land in Ontario must meet the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code (Highway Code) as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Crown Land Bridge Management Guideline (Ministry Guideline). Both the Highway Code and Ministry Guideline require bridges to be designed by professional engineers and meet certain design and construction standards.

Private owners of these bridges installed on Crown land were advised by the Ministry that they were required to immediately post these bridges with triple load postings or 11/16/22 tonnes. Leading by example, the Ministry posted all of its RSI bridges with load restrictions or, in some cases, removed them from the landscape.

In cooperation with other RSI bridge owners, the Ministry has completed efforts to identify the exact location of each bridge, along with a design fix for the 40’ and 50’ bridges to share with affected forestry companies, and followed-up with the forest industry licence holders regarding their obligation to post their bridges with load restrictions.

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Visit Resources webpage for additional forestry health and safety information 

Photo: Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry