City of Vancouver lawsuit claims faulty Granville Bridge work poses ‘substantial danger’

Click to play video: 'Vancouver lawsuit claims defects from Granville Bridge rehabilitation pose danger'
Vancouver lawsuit claims defects from Granville Bridge rehabilitation pose danger
The City of Vancouver is taking three companies it hired to do considerable rehabilitation work on the Granville Bridge to court over "defects" and "deficiencies" that could pose a danger to users. Angela Jung reports. – Feb 20, 2024

The City of Vancouver is suing three companies it hired to do major rehabilitation work to the Granville Bridge, alleging the final product includes “defects” or deficiencies” that “pose a real and substantial danger” to users.

A civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court this month names Associated Engineering (B.C.) Ltd., Graham Infrastructure LP and Ross Rex Industrial Painters Ltd. as defendants.

Global News has reached out to each comment on this story, with Associated Engineering stating it’s “investigating” the issues raised.

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Vancouver’s Granville Bridge to get major upgrade

According to the civil claim, work on the Granville Bridge between 2019 and 2021 included the replacement of select expansion joints connecting segments of the bridge, the installation of rubber troughs and the recoating of structure steel members underneath certain expansion joints.

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Associated Engineering was responsible for design and inspection of construction and performance, the document reads, Graham was the general contractor, and Ross Rex was the coating and painting subcontractor.

The city alleges some of the recoating work was never done, with no caulking and penetrating sealer applied in all places it should have been. The rubber troughs — meant to protect the structural steel members from runoff, water and debris — “do not function as intended, in that they overrun and clog, and otherwise allow for unintended amounts of runoff to flow onto unintended locations,” it claims.

Vancouver also alleges water, runoff, debris and other substances are seeping past the expansion joints and surrounding asphalt onto the structural members below.

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The resulting damage, the civil suit claims, includes corrosion and degradation of parts of the Granville Bridge meant to be covered by the recoating work, and corrosion and degradation of the structural steel members, the bolts securing the expansion joins to the deck surface of the bridge.

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“The Defects/Deficiencies and Resultant Damage pose a real and substantial danger … to members of the public who use the Granville Bridge, and the City’s employees, contractors and representatives who access the Granville Bridge,” it states.

None of the allegations against any of the companies have been proven in court.

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In a brief statement over the phone on Tuesday, Associated Engineering’s vice-president of business and development assured the public the bridge is safe.
“Safety of the public and users of the bridge are our priority. We are committed to investigating all issues that have been raised,” said Lianna Mah. “We can confirm the bridge is safe and we are working collaboratively with the city to investigate the issues.”

In a clarifying emailed statement on Tuesday, the City of Vancouver said the claim’s language around safety risk was a legal requirement, rather than representative of a real and immediate danger to commuters.

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“The City would like to assure the public that the Granville Street Bridge does not pose any structural safety risks to the public,” it wrote.

“The City’s Notice of Civil Claim that recently was filed noted the concept of the bridge posing a ‘real and substantial danger’ to the public, which the City acknowledges without context has raised concerns. This language is a legal requirement for the claim.”

The bridge, built in 1954, is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure public safety, it added.

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The municipality wants general damages and special damages awarded in court, in addition to cost recovery funds and any other relief deemed appropriate.

It claims the companies breached their “duties of care and were negligent” through a collective failure to properly design, inspect and carry out the work in accordance with standards and best practices.

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The defendants have between 21 and 49 days to respond to the civil claim, depending on where they live, unless a different timeframe has been set by the court.

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