Work has been halted on part of a half-billion dollar city mega project after Manitoba Hydro ordered construction company PCL off the site for building too close to their hydro lines and towers.
No work has been done for a week as the two companies hash things out, and likely won’t start again for up to another two weeks, said Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen.
“Our concern is a lot of the work, particularly on the active transportation path and the park and ride parking lots, is coming close to our transmission towers and in some instances the footings of these transmission towers have been excavated,” said Owen.
Several photos provided to Global News show construction cars and vehicles parked under towers, piles of dirt and gravel underneath transmission lines, tall metal pillars built right next to towers and lines and construction roads built where none should be.
Manitoba Hydro said the work that is currently happening does not fall in line with the initial project proposal it signed off on.
“There has been a variance,” Owen told Global News. However, Hydro could not say if it was the city or the construction company who deferred from what had been previously approved.
Regardless, Owen said the biggest concern is safety.
“Paramount to any of this is workers’ safety,” said Owen. “If a tower comes down, these are high-voltage lines and it poses an extreme risk.”
An example includes the many mounds of elevated dirt directly under transmission lines, he said.
“If there is heavy machinery, a front end loader for example, moving this around … all it takes is for that bucket to touch a line and we have problems.”
There are also a number of trees that have been stockpiled on site to landscape the area.
“We don’t allow trees to be planted under our transmission lines,” Owen said.
The work stop order affects construction on a portion of the line just north of McGillivray Boulevard all the way south to Bishop Grandin Boulevard. While the actual BRT line is not in dispute, work around the line, including the active transportation path and the park and ride are of concern.
All of those things violate the city’s agreement with Manitoba Hydro and require the crown corporation’s permission to do, said Owen.
“One of the stipulations is that the work stays 6.1 metres away from the footing of the transmission tower and we don’t think that’s happened in a number of instances,” said Owen.
“The agreement that’s in place is that, essentially, any work that takes place on our transmission corridor, we get to see it, study it and approve it.”
Hydro said it wants to ensure everything is fixed before the construction goes any further.
“Before any concrete is poured on this site we want these issues not only studied by our transmission folks but approved,” Owen said. “We don’t want re bar and concrete poured and then set and then we finally come out and say, ‘this is too close to our towers and you have to dig it up and redo it.’ That’s going to cost someone a lot of money.”
A PCL spokesperson did not respond to the allegations, only pointed Global News to the City for comment.
A City spokesperson offered the following statement:
“Work on the Southwest Transitway project is ongoing. And while we are experiencing temporary delays on two of the 12 project construction sites (the Clarence and Seel park and ride lots), stakeholder discussions are ongoing.”
Mayor Brian Bowman said Wednesday he wasn’t aware of the work stop order.
“It’s not uncommon for portions of a major infrastructure project to have stop work orders,” said Bowman.
“The project is still on time and on budget and there is ongoing work that is occurring on the rapid transit line right now, just not on that area.”