In 2006, culverts under Sudbury roads suddenly shot up the priority list — but not before a teenager lost her life.

Skye Whitman was killed when an old culvert collapsed under the rural road she was driving on.

Greg Clausen, a retired engineer who spent almost three decades working on infrastructure for the City of Sudbury, said the incident sharpened everyone’s focus.

“I think it made everybody aware and more vigilant when they did inspections of what the consequences could be,” he said.

Sudbury has since spent millions upgrading culverts.

The current director of roads for the city of Sudbury said the process is never-ending.

“We've got approximately 170 large culverts slash bridges, and we have thousands of culverts,” David Shelsted said. “So we continue to need to watch those and replace them as required.”

Lessons in Latchford

A near miss on a bridge in Latchford also improved the monitoring of steel in bridges.

Mayor George Lefevbre recalled how close his town came to being the site of another tragedy in January of 2003, after a steel bridge gave way seconds after a transport crossed.

“That heavily laden truck, if he wouldn't have been able to get out of that, he would have been in the river,” he said.

Lefevbre said there were no warning signs that the bridge was failing.

After it collapsed, the ministry of Transportation started doing ultra sound testing to look for hidden flaws in all steel bridges.

This year, the ministry says it tested 20 different structures in the northeast region.

For more on the condition of bridges and culverts in Sudbury, stay tuned to CBC's Morning North radio program this week for our special coverage called Sudbury's Big Fix.

You can also find an interactive map on our website.