nice road shame about the heaves

When you spend $15 million on a road, you shouldn't get bumps. Not for a couple of years anyway. But there are significant heaves in the Hamilton Boulevard extension.

When you spend $15 million on a road, you shouldn’t get bumps. Not for a couple of years anyway.

But there are significant heaves in the Hamilton Boulevard extension. There are two big dips in the black asphalt that make your tummy flutter when you hit them.

Whitehorse engineers are keeping an eye on the problem. So is the Yukon government, which is investigating why the sinkholes developed.

SDLqWe put a lot of blast rock in there, (and) there’s suggestions that some of the material might be moving into the blast rock,” Pat Molloy, the Yukon’s director of community infrastructure, told CBC Radio One in September.

For those who aren’t engineers, imagine yourself pouring sand atop jagged chunks of rock. Eventually, it settles and sinks.

Ensuring this doesn’t happen isn’t groundbreaking engineering. Dumping fill on big rocks is a pretty common thing to do when people build roads, as we’ve been doing since … well, Rome. Road-building companies, the good ones, compact the road properly to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Of course, when you’re building a 3.5-kilometre-long road for $4.3 million a kilometre, stuff happens. It can’t be easy.

And maybe drivers should be understanding as their cars bottom out.

But this problem didn’t appear after the road was paved.

Government officials noticed the problems last year, and asked the contractor, Sidhu Trucking Ltd., to fix it before the asphalt was laid down.

Apparently, Sidhu, which was paid $8.9 million for its work on the roadbed, didn’t fix the problem.

Now the problem has a nice layer of asphalt on it. And fixing it is going to be a little trickier, and costlier, than it was.

There are two questions here. First, why didn’t Sidhu fix the problem? Second, if the government had identified the problem, why didn’t they make sure the problem was fixed before the asphalt was laid?

Now, you might remember Sidhu. It was the company that cut corners while blasting the roadbed and sent huge boulders crashing onto Lobird residents, damaging cars and trailers.

It is still unclear today whether people were adequately compensated by Sidhu for the problem. Or if they were compensated by the company at all. One of the worst hit by the blasting problem moved shortly after the incident.

The good news is that the government is aware of the problem, and should be able to hold the contractor to account.

But it’s going to wait all winter before working on a fix to let the roadbed settle a little more.

That’s probably a good plan.

But it’s still a troubling situation.

In the past, auditor general Sheila Fraser has criticized the government for not properly inspecting its construction projects.

Again, on Hamilton Boulevard, there seems to have been failure to ensure identified problems were fixed before the asphalt was laid.

And drivers will now have a physical reminder of that mistake all winter. (Richard Mostyn)

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