Investigation finds unsafe forestry bridges

Investigation of 216 forestry bridges constructed in the last three years found more than two dozen may not be safe.

An investigation of 216 bridges constructed throughout the province in the last three years has found numerous non-compliances with legislation and over two dozen bridges that may not be safe for industrial use, cites a Forest Practices Board report released Wednesday.

“In the Cariboo-Chilcotin, the planning side of bridge construction was lacking,” Forest Practices Board chair Tim Ryan said Thursday.

“For lots of people that’s the paper work, but the professional foresters and professional engineers need to ensure bridges are planned properly.”

Planning is the first thing that’s thought about with bridges, Ryan explained.

There’s a plan that’s developed around the location of the bridge and the size, then it’s designed appropriately.

After construction it is expected a professional will sign off to ensure it was properly constructed. Any deviations from the design have to be noted.

In the report, planning for bridges in the Cariboo-Chilcotin scored 50 per cent for compliance, 58 per cent compliance for as-built, 61 per cent for preparing for peak flow and 33 per cent for crossing assurances.

The district did, however, score 100 per cent for accurate as built, which means the builder followed the design and in terms of where bridges were located and how they were constructed, the Cariboo-Chilcotin scored high 90s and 100 per cent.

“Our investigation showed where these bridges were located on creeks or how they were constructed, the Cariboo-Chilcotin did well,” Ryan said.

The investigation looked at five districts or 216 bridges — there are 26 districts in the province.

“It’s a good snap shot in that it reminds each one of us the importance of doing our jobs correctly and practicing due diligence to ensure these bridges are safe for the public and industrial traffic that relies on them,” Ryan said.

The Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) and Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (APEGBC) said Thursday as  independent regulators of professional forestry and professional engineering through the administration of the Foresters Act and Engineers and Geoscientists Act respectively, the professions strongly believe “one unsafe bridge is too many.”