City reveals hidden reports led to emergency repairs on Linc

The city of Hamilton revealed that two reports had been hidden for years from city council. Not all recommendations had been addressed, which launched the last-minute emergency repairs last month.

This is not the first time the city has uncovered hidden reports

The city says two reports were hidden around the safety of overhead signs on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway. (Ryan Lindley/Instagram)

The city of Hamilton has revealed two reports hidden from city council for years, which prompted them to launch emergency repairs to the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway.

The city issued a statement on Monday saying that new leadership in public works had learned of the reports in July and that not all the recommendations had been addressed. The reports, dated 2012 and 2017, pointed out deficiencies to the sign structures on Hamilton roadways.

This isn't the first time city council has uncovered reports dealing with the dangers of Hamilton roadways.  Earlier this year, city staff issued an apology to the public after admitting that a report on the friction of Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) had also been uncovered. The city has launched a multi-million-dollar judicial inquiry into the Red Hill report.

Edward Soldo, the city's Director of Transportation Operations and Maintenance, said employees discovered the deficiencies "in the process of reviewing outstanding items." Council was alerted on July 22 in the "spirit of transparency." 

That same day, the city rolled out last-minute road closures on the Linc for five nights due to "urgent" repairs. A schedule was unavailable, which the city noted was because of "the nature" of the operations.

At the time of the 2017 report, many signs along the Linc were rated as having a "poor" overall condition — the worst possible rating. 

But Soldo says the outstanding maintenance was not dangerous. 

"[The items] were urgent to be done," he said. "But in terms of public safety, I wouldn't rate them as critical." 

Regarding what other reports could be lost in the shuffle, Soldo replied that the city sees "hundreds of projects" a year and that these reports "occur in the background and they get completed."

CBC also reached out to the Chair of the public works committee, Lloyd Ferguson, but did not receive an immediate response. The council's general issue committee spoke about the reports in their meeting yesterday, but did so in-camera.

Work included removing some signs and catwalks

Among other recommendations, it called for the catwalks on all signs to be removed because of "broken and cracked" clamps. According to the report, damaged clamps, which are used to affix the catwalks to the sign supports, can cause the catwalks to become "unstable" and "no longer supported."

The consultants specifically pointed out catwalks on signs that ran along the Linc.

Over time, the catwalks have become obsolete: they were originally used by maintenance workers to adjust lighting and re-facing on signs, which are now reflective. 

Many of the repairs noted for the Linc were recommended to be completed within one month, which the report says is for "urgent repairs", or within one year, which is for "a great amount of deterioration on a critical element."

The 2012 report also called for clamps to be replaced and for cracks to be repaired

The city says it will re-inspect all sign support structures in Hamilton in the fall and will improve the way they are managed. 

Based on the hidden reports, the emergency work has included: 

  • Removal of two overhead sign structures on the Linc — Golf Links (eastbound) and Upper Wentworth (eastbound).

  • Removal of the maintenance catwalks on all sign support structures along the Linc.

  • Maintenance (bolt tightening, new hardware, foundation repairs, etc.) of sign support structures along the Linc.

  • Repairs of the overhead sign structures on the RHVP while the roadway was closed in July 2019.

The city also said they will be conducting more sign structure repairs on the RHVP, the Claremont Access and Nikola Tesla Boulevard and will be done by the end of the summer. This works includes tightening support anchor bolts, installing keeper plates, and replacing bolts. 


Christine Rankin is a reporter/editor with CBC News, and an associate producer at CBC Sports. You can find her on twitter at @ChrisRankinNews, or send her a message at christine.rankin@cbc.ca.


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