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CBC Ottawa

Galvanizing opinion on Ottawa's underground infrastructure

It will be at least a month before we see the results of that 90-day independent investigation into the root causes of September's culvert collapse and sinkhole in the middle of the Jeanne d'Arc off-ramp of Highway 174. City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick has assured us that this inspection video, obtained by CBC News through Access to Information, will play a key role.

For those of us growing impatient for the official report, another clue to the root cause of the collapse may be found in another report, which wrapped up more than a month ago. On Sept. 12 council directed staff to go forth and assess the condition of any critical insfrastructure "similar in age and materials" to the pipe that failed.

In a Sept. 28 memo summarizing the results of that review, Kent Kirkpatrick describes the work being done to speed up the relining of some of that infrastructure under critical transportation corridors, mostly in the city's east end. Then at the end of the memo, he offers "clarification" related to the Jeanne d'Arc culvert, including this:

"The section under the eastbound lanes, composed of non galvanized steel, deteriorated at a much greater rate than the section found under the westbound lanes, which is galvanized steel."

Kirkpatrick notes the two sections were of similar vintage. He does not explain why different materials were used under the same highway. Inspection videos of the culvert under the westbound lanes (CBC News obtained four separate videos altogether, along with still photos and written reports) reveal the pipes are in pretty good shape. That's the galvanized one. The video of the non-galvanized culvert under the eastbound lanes...well, it pretty much speaks for itself.

Here's Kirkpatrick's memo: Memo Culverts FINAL 2.doc

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