The project teams for Edmonton’s two problem bridge-replacement projects have put most of their woes behind them—if trips to civil court and possible late-completion penalties are excluded.

The key steel erection subcontractor on the bigger of the two important public works projects, the 206-meter-long, $155-million Walterdale Bridge, is seeking $12.2 million in payments and damages from joint-venture general contractor Acciona/Pacer. In a lawsuit filed in March in the Court of the Queen’s Bench in Edmonton, the steel-erection subcontractor, Winnipeg-based Capitol Steel, claims Acciona/Pacer required it to work with defectively fabricated steel and implement improper repair procedures. Ultimately, the general contractor brought in another steel fabricator-erector to make the repairs.

Scheduled to go into service this fall, the project will miss its contracted completion date by about a year. Acciona/Pacer, which consists of Spain-based Acciona S.A. and Calgary, Alberta-based Pacer Corp., faces a late-completion penalty of $10,000 a day, up to $5 million.

The timetable for building the new Walterdale Bridge, which will replace a 103-year-old span, began to unravel last year, when the South Korean steel fabricator, Daewoo, failed to deliver components of the bridge’s arches, deck and other key pieces, according to Canadian sources. When the steel did arrive, numerous problems and flaws came with it, says Capitol Steel’s lawsuit.

Last July, Acciona/Pacer brought in another subcontractor, CentralSteel, to repair the steel structure. Capitol Steel contends that the repair work was subpar, including welds that did not meet “Canadian welding and bridge-construction codes” as well as “bolt-material test reports” that did not meet authorized standards.

Daewoo delivered the final arch sections last October, and the second arch—which rises 177 ft over the North Saskatchewan River—was lifted into place in April. Construction crews are working on the bridge’s deck, say reports from the city of Edmonton.

Acciona/Pacer and the other companies involved in the project could not be reached for comment about the dispute. But in news accounts in Canadian media, Acciona/Pacer has blamed Capitol Steel for many of the problems. In one account of Acciona/ Pacer’s lawsuit filings, the joint venture charged that, in reality, Capitol Steel is responsible for much of the project delay and that the subcontractor “repeatedly altered the repair procedures to increase cost and slow [Capitol Steel’s] proper completion of the repair work,” the CBC reported.

More Public Works Progress

Meanwhile, a deck now covers the girders that frame another delayed Edmonton bridge project, the 102nd Avenue Bridge over Groat Road. The $32-million bridge, which spans 100 m, fell a year behind schedule after a trio of 4.2-m-deep girder sections buckled while being erected last spring. The city’s road director stated that the spacing braces had failed when cranes released the second-to-last girder being erected, causing the buckling. Steel- erection contractor Supreme Steel, Edmonton, removed the girder sections for testing and eventually re-erected them.

After stopping work for awhile during the winter, Graham, a Calgary-based contractor, and its teammate on the project, AECOM, are on track to finish the bridge by this fall, says an Edmonton project website. The contractors have faced fines of $11,500 per day since the 102nd Avenue Bridge missed the originally scheduled opening last October.