Lawsuit questions construction quality on Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge

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WATCH: A lawsuit between contractors has called into question the construction quality and safety of the new Walterdale Bridge. Fletcher Kent explains.

EDMONTON – A contractual battle between contractors working on the Walterdale Bridge has led to questions surrounding the new bridge’s safety.

A statement of claim filed by Capitol Steel Corporation states the subcontractor that replaced the steel company is doing substandard work.

The statement of claim from Capitol Steel reads:

“The Continuing Work Deficiencies will compromise the strength of the structure and will result in premature failures of welds necessitating extensive repairs.”

The Walterdale will open one year later than originally scheduled due to delays manufacturing the steel arches. Capitol Steel’s lawsuit states that when the steel arrived in Edmonton, it “contained numerous fabrication defects and deficiencies.”

Those deficiencies, according to Capitol Steel, led to delays repairing and welding the arches.

READ MORE: First Walterdale Bridge arch lifted into place

The company also says the prime contractor, Acciona Pacer Joint Venture, pushed Capitol Steel “to implement improper, sub-standard and deficient Repair Procedures (or no repairs at all).” The lawsuit claims that was intended to “result in the acceleration of the completion of the project, but at significant detriment to the strength and long-term viability of the structure.”

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Capitol Steel stopped working on steel repairs and welds in July 2015.

Acciona Pacer Joint Venture (APJV) filed a Statement of defence and a counterclaim.

The company denies allegations it is pushing substandard repair procedures. Instead, APJV said Capitol Steel “repeatedly altered the Repair Procedures to increase cost and slow CSC’s proper completion of the repair work.”

APJV also accused Capitol Steel of failing to have enough staff on site to do its job in a timely fashion.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The City of Edmonton owns the bridge and had hired APJV as the project’s primary contractor.

Officials with the city refused to get involved with disputes between contractors but Barry Belcourt, the city’s branch manager of transportation infrastructure, did offer assurances to Edmontonians concerned about bridge safety.

“The protocol we have put in place for quality control is probably the most rigorous we have ever had,” Belcourt said.

Belcourt said independent third-party inspectors have analyzed every one of the hundreds of welds on the bridge. He added any project using steel will have deficiencies. Walterdale has its share but they are all being repaired to the city’s standards.

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“We’re very, very confident that the welds we have out there will not impact the lifespan but more importantly, the work that’s being done is going to be safe,” said Belcourt.

The city says the bridge is still on track to open this fall.

READ MORE: Significant progress on Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge project

Councillor Andrew Knack wants more information about what is happening on the bridge. But he’s not overly concerned.

“We need to really dig into it and get some information as a council as to what’s actually valid to this versus what’s being put forward just to stake a position,” said Knack.

He added the $10,000 per day penalty for not completing the bridge on time likely plays a factor here.

“I’m sure that’s why these statements of claim are being filed. Because somebody is going to want to make up that penalty and both parties have a vested interest to not be the party paying that penalty.”

Capitol Steel is suing Acciona Pacer Joint Venture for $16,007,006.17.

Acciona Pacer Joint Venture is countersuing Capitol Steel for $16,700,000.