Bridge design, construction, safety significantly improved
VICTORIA – An investigation of 269 bridges and 59 wood-box culverts constructed throughout the province in the last three years has found significant improvement since a similar investigation was published in 2014, according to a new report.
“We set out to see whether practices had improved as a result of our last report in 2014 and we are very pleased with the findings,” said Kevin Kriese, board chair, Forest Practices Board. “We found much better results than last time and industry, the professional associations and government deserve recognition for their efforts.”
Compliance with all environmental protection and safety requirements is at the mid- to high-90% level. Further, 100% of bridges constructed on forest service roads by natural resource districts and major licensees are safe and sound for use.
The investigation found 5% of the bridges had significant safety issues; a big improvement over the 2014 investigation, which found 15% of bridges had significant safety issues.
“While only 5% of bridges had significant safety problems, these are newly constructed bridges and there is no excuse for not building them safe for use,” Kriese added. “Some operators need to improve their practices and government needs to monitor for compliance to ensure bridges are safe and sound.”
Planning and professional practice requirements also improved since 2014. However, the board found some professionals are not recognizing or understanding the requirements for crossing assurance statements, and some forest professionals are not recognizing when the complexity of a structure requires specialized expertise. The report includes recommendations to address these issues.
Bridges and wood box culverts constructed since January 2017 in the Mackenzie, North Island-Central Coast, Sea to Sky, Selkirk and Skeena Stikine natural resource districts were included in the investigation, which took place in summer and fall 2019.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.
Forest Practices Board
April 30, 2020