Wynne government risked public safety by opening Nipigon River bridge despite knowing it had structural problems: NDP

Today during Question Period, Michael Mantha, NDP northern development critic, and MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, demanded answers from the Wynne government about why it endangered public safety by allowing the Nipigon bridge to open despite previous knowledge of structural problems.

“Three months before the Nipigon River bridge failed, inspectors discovered a problem with the bearing assembly. This is the part that holds the bridge to the foundation. This is the part that failed,” Mantha explained.  “The contractors proposed a solution. The engineers told the Ministry there was a still a problem. But the Ministry approved it anyway. And then didn’t install the parts.”

 

“Why did the MTO roll the dice with people’s lives, and allow this bridge to open, when they knew there were problems with this bearing assembly?” Mantha said.

Mantha referred to a Ministry of Transportation (MTO) report that showed the government had prior knowledge of structural problems with the Nipigon River bridge.

“We are extremely lucky no one was injured or killed when the Nipigon bridge suddenly failed within one week of opening. The public deserves to know what went wrong and who is responsible,” Mantha said.  “MTO officials knew there was a problem with the bridge three months before it opened. They then approved a flawed, quick-and-dirty fix that probably would not have prevented the bridge failure, even if it had actually been installed.”

“Did the Minister know about these problems with the bridge, and if so, why did he allow the bridge to open without making absolutely sure that the bearing assembly would hold?” Mantha said.