The City of Hamilton is revealing why the Lincoln Alexander Parkway (LINC) and other well-travelled roads endured “urgent” rolling closures in late July.
It released two consultant reports on its website Tuesday “in the interest of transparency.”
In a statement, the city says “new leadership in the Public Works Department” recently discovered the reports from 2012 and 2017 and concluded “that not all of the recommendations in them had been addressed.”
LISTEN: Bill Kelly talks with Hamilton city councillor Terry Whitehead about consultant reports from 2012 and 2017 that sparked urgent repairs of overhead sign structures among a number of city roadways.
It says recent closures were an “immediate action” to address the condition of some of the structures. That work includes the removal of two overhead signs on the LINC at Golf Links and Upper Wentworth as well as maintenance on all structures along the LINC involving catwalks, bolt tightening, new hardware and foundation repairs.
The Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) was also the subject of overhead sign repairs which also closed the roadway for a time in July. Apparently the work is not done as the city says additional sign structure repairs on the RHVP, the Claremont Access and Nikola Tesla Boulevard are ongoing and will be completed by the end of the summer.
The latter report from 2017 was written after a “detailed visual inspection” of 44 highway signs by multinational engineering firm AECOM found that 23 per cent of the signs had structural ratings that were considered poor.
The report recommended “increasing repair and rehabilitation costs for its aging sign support structure infrastructure to protect its assets and the public’s safety.”
The report showed specific concerns about the C-clamps used to support both signboards and maintenance walkways. In the AECOM report, many were found to be “often cracked” and a safety issue if used.
The worst of the issues was reported to be the Aluminum Tapered Leg (ATL) sign support located on Nicola Tesla Boulevard on the eastbound side near Woodward Avenue.
AECOM said the site had “several cracked welds” and bolt corrosion which “reduce the serviceability of this structure” and represented a hazard.
The report recommended that the sign should be “removed and replaced within a month to protect public safety.”
The city revealed, in their statement on Tuesday, that they did act on that recommendation as two overhead sign structures were removed from Nikola Tesla Boulevard and Woodward Avenue in late 2017 / early 2018.
Re-inspection of all sign support structures will begin this fall, according to the city, who promised “improving the strategy” for the road assets going forward.
When asked about why it took so long for city crews to make the repairs recommended in the reports, Coun. Terry Whitehead told Global News, “I don’t have an answer to those questions,” and that he would be inquiring.
“I’m not disputing the concerns that we all have when these things break, I can only rely on the professional wisdom of our staff when they come back and say that there was no imminent danger to the general public,” Whitehead said.
He said the typical procedure for dealing with such reports recommending immediate action is to fill out a capital and maintenance plan.
“The capital sheet is filled out, then the dollars are allocated, and it’s just a matter of scheduling the work.”
When asked if that was done in following the reports, Whitehead said that has “yet to be determined.”
“To me, it appears that somebody wasn’t crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s at the concept of the implementation of the plan.”
Meanwhile, the city is still facing a $250-million, class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of drivers who’ve crashed on the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) since its opening in 2007.
In that suit, a 2013 report concerning the pavement’s “slipperiness,” which apparently remained hidden for more than five years, is the subject of an upcoming judicial inquiry.
None of those claims have been proven in court.
WATCH: Hamilton city council approves judicial inquiry over lost study
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