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Wednesday, Jan 02, 2019

Technical expertise and creative solutions help deliver bridge and culvert inspections in remote regions of Ontario

Bridge and Culvert Inspections

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario is mandated to inspect their structures once every two years. As part of their inspection program, the Ministry retained Associated Engineering to conduct bridge and culvert inspections on their inventory in the northwest region of the province. 

Associated Engineering will carry out 150 inspections per year as part of a four-year bridge inspection program. The project is unique as most of the locations in northern Ontario are remote and no lodging or restaurants are located near the inspection sites. 

Our team devised a strategy that involved a towable camper to serve as accommodations. Our GIS specialist, Caner Akin, overlaid the bridge locations and Provincial Parks and Campgrounds onto a mapping tool to minimize travel time and optimize our project schedule for the field inspections. 

Bridge and Culvert Inspections

Project Manager, Christian Concolino, tells us, “Each day of inspection was mapped out and the information was accessible on smart phones to show our daily plan. The Ministry was also able to log onto the mapping system to check progress and keep their road operations managers up-to-date on our location each day.” 

The inspection team travelled to each site, inspected the bridge and reported in the format established in the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (OSIM), which is used to develop work programs. Overall condition indices are calculated based on element conditions of each component.

Fifteen bridges were selected in 2018 to be inspected by a Bridge Master team and provide a close proximity, enhanced inspection report. These bridges had a separate layer on the GIS system and allowed all parties involved to schedule their work around the inspections. CN Rail, CP Rail, Almon Brothers Bridge Master, the Ministry, and Associated Engineering were all involved in these enhanced OSIM inspections. 

Bridge and Culvert Inspections

The Ministry had identified that several of their cuvlerts were not seen in previous inspections due to access limitations, primarily, high water levels. Christian tells us, “With Pierre Burton’s ingenuity, we developed an innovative strategy for inspecting culverts.” Structural Engineer, Pierre Burton built an inspection hovercraft capable of safely entering culverts with high water levels. The hovercraft was equipped with a GoPro camera mounted on a remote-controlled swivel head capable of rotating 360 degrees. This gave our inspection team a full view of all bridges and culverts and, therefore, an accurate assessment of each of the structures.

Remote-controlled hovercraft with GoPro camera facilitated safe inspection of culverts

The Ministry has also developed a new Bridge Management Software (BMS). We were amongst the first consultants to use this system on a project. The data can be entered in the field with a connection to the internet via a laptop or any mobile device. Our key staff involved on this project and site inspections included Christian Concolino, Mark Torrie, Pierre Burton, Caelin Markarian, Stuart Ainslie, Dan MacDonald-Lockhart, Max Wallen, Caner Akin, and Scott Barbacki.