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Industry News

September 10, 2008  By Administrator

A look at this month's top industry news stories.

B.C. road upgrades
British Columbia has announced plans to invest $43.9 million in transportation improvements for the Fort St. John and North Peace region this year.

Work taking place includes a $9 million project to complete paving and replace a bridge on Upper Halfway Rd.

Other projects include:  paving on Airport Rd, Baldonnel Rd., Road 255, Montney Highway and South Montney Coulee; paving of the West Bypass Rd. in Fort St. John; completion of the Cache Creek Bridge replacement project; completion of paving on 85th Ave. in Fort St. John; additional graveling, ditching and brushing on North Peace roads, and completion of four-laning from Road 269 to Road 271 in Fort St. John.


Another major upgrading project is the construction of a truck-climbing lane on Highway 97 at Mile 6, north of Dawson Creek. Mile 6 was selected for upgrading because it’s the first significant uphill grade between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. The $3 million project will also consist of intersection improvements, turning lanes and overhead lighting. There will also be widening and paving of the Reidell Sub 308 Frontage Rd.

The Mile 6 passing lane is being carried out as part of a $36 million provincial investment in the South Peace district this year. Key projects include resurfacing 31 km of Highway 52S between the elk pit and Tumbler Ridge, regraveling and seal coating about 10 km of the Old Alaska Highway, near Taylor, widening/strengthening and paving about 15 km on the Boundary Rd. south of Dawson Creek and seal coating the northern 28 km of Highway 52N between Highway 97 and Brassey Creek.

Ontario plans major repairs for Highway 427
A $21.9 million contract
has been awarded by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to Brennan
Paving & Construction Ltd., of Markham, to repair the northbound
express lanes, ten bridges and retaining walls on Highway 427 in the
Toronto region. This is the third of five projects worth $127 million
that is being spent to upgrade Highway 427 which is used by more than
300,000 motorists daily.

Pre-cast concrete slabs will be used to complete some of the road
repairs. According to the provincial transportation ministry, this
construction technique has lasting benefits and should result in more
durable and longer lasting repairs. Construction work will be done with
extended nightly lane closures. Contract completion is scheduled for

Volvo press conference draws global group

A Volvo L350F wheel loader and A40E FS articulated dump truck in action during the Volvo International Press conference in Eskiltuna, Sweden, held June 4-8, 2008

Nearly one hundred media representatives from twenty-four countries attended the Volvo International Press Conference held in Eskiltuna, Sweden from June 4-8, 2008.

In a presentation to conference attendees, Volvo Construction Equipment president and chief executive Tony Helsham noted that oil price increases are putting pressure on product prices, with some predicting oil prices of $200 /barrel within the next two years. For manufacturers such as Volvo, increases in the price of steel are also putting pressure on product prices. Steel was some $400 /tonne at the beginning of 2004 and is now forecasted to remain at or above $1000/tonne into early 2009.

Turning to the global market outlook, Volvo’s economic “clock” indicates that two thirds of world markets are in growth mode while one third, and notably including the key U.S. market is in a slowdown. Growth market opportunities include the building of new road systems in China, India, Eastern Europe and other emerging markets, as well as increasing infrastructure investment in Europe and the U.S. Russia plans to increase is highways by 10 per cent to 670 000 km and double 4-lane roads to 8 000 km by 2010. In India there is an expected $500 billion in infrastructure investment while China has planned road development between 2005 and 2010 of 150 billion RMB each year. Recognition of these growth opportunities was part of Volvo’s rationale for its Lingong/SDLG acquisition, with Volvo to be marketed as the “premium” brand and SDLG will be marketed as the “value” brand.

According to Volvo’s first quarter reports, total world market conditions for 2008 are expected to remain on historically high conditions, although not as good as 2007. Within that overall growth, North America is expected to be down 15-20 per cent while Europe is expected to stay static at 2007 levels. The growth comes from the rest of the world where demand is expected to increase by 20 per cent. So what are the potential downsides in global equipment supply? Well, Helsham frets over whether all the new capacity coming on stream will result in overcapacity if the controversial concept of global economic coupling (to the massive U.S. market) becomes reality.

Pat Olney, president of the road machinery business line of Volvo Construction Equipment, quoted several reports which demonstrate the impact of infrastructure investment, or lack thereof, on economic growth. One such report indicated that the “[The] Indian government’s expenditure on road construction contributed more to poverty reduction than did (any) other investments…” 124 people lifted out of poverty per 1 million Rs ($23,400) invested on road infrastructure. Olney also pointed out the current underinvestment in U.S. road infrastructure at 0.75 per cent of GDP compared to 5 per cent for Russia and 3 per cent for both India and China. Comparing this data with projections that U.S. truck transport volumes will grow by 65 per cent from 1999 to 2020, Olney concluded that the U.S. market may be a sleeping giant.

Quebec launches biggest bridge repair project in Canada
The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. (JCCBI), in conjunction with the Québec Department of Transport (MTQ), has announced the details of the project to replace the deck of the Honoré-Mercier Bridge which spans the St. Lawrence River approximately 10 km west of downtown Montreal. Built in 1934, the deck has never before been completely replaced. According to JCCBI, this project will extend the life of the bridge for another 75 years with a proven construction technique involving the use of precast concrete panels to minimize the project’s impact on bridge traffic. The project will also allow the installation of a combined bikeway/sidewalk path on the bridge to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians wanting to cross the river.

Glen Carlin, JCCBI general manager, said that the federal and provincial governments will finance the project, while The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. will act as the Project Authority. The two phases of the project will require a higher total investment than the Jacques Cartier Bridge re-decking, making this the largest bridge repair project in Canadian history. Another highlight is the agreement involving the governments of Canada and Québec, and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, a Canadian first.

“The primary goal will be to minimize the impact on people’s normal bridge use, especially during rush hours,” Carlin said. From 2008 to 2011, major work to strengthen the steel structures and install precast concrete deck panels will require periodic lane closures outside of peak traffic periods. At all times, however, at least one lane in each direction will be open to traffic.

The re-decking project has been divided into two separate contracts. The Mohawk Bridge Consortium (MBC), a Mohawk business group, has been awarded Contract A, which involves strengthening of the steel structure and replacement of the reinforced-concrete bridge deck on the three access ramps that go through the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. This first phase of the project is valued at $66 million. Work has already begun, and will mainly involve the southern approach ramps on the federal portion of the bridge. Some of the work on the ramp decks will require traffic detours to speed up completion of this first phase of the project.
A public tendering process for Contract B is slated for the fall of next year. This phase will cover the federal portion of the bridge between the ramps covered by Contract A and the steel arch span over the St. Lawrence River, as well as much of the provincial portion of the bridge north of the steel arch span. This second phase will consist of replacing the deck using precast concrete panels.

A consortium of engineering-consulting firms specializing in major projects (BPR, Cima +, and Axor) will provide contract administration and oversee all work, in addition to providing traffic management during all phases of the project.

Canada and Ontario joint road project
The federal and provincial governments, in partnership with the County of Essex, have announced funding for the widening of Essex County Road 22 from Lakeshore Blvd. to Patillo Rd. This project is one of several projects in the Windsor-Essex region that are being funded under the Canada-Ontario Border Infrastructure program. Some $300 million is being invested in the Windsor Gateway.

The widening of Essex County Road 22 from two lanes to four lanes, including major improvements to the Pike Creek bridge, will provide improved traffic operations, better highway access to the border for regional commercial and consumer traffic in Essex County and increased safety and capacity.

A call for construction tenders was issued at the end of June. Following the awarding of the contract, construction is expected to begin later this summer.

New five-lane bridge for Northern Alberta
Construction is underway on the new $127 million five-lane bridge across the Athabasca River in Fort McMurray. The new bridge will have the province’s largest bridge deck when it opens for traffic in 2011.

The new northbound Highway 63 bridge is part of the more than $600 million worth of transportation infrastructure projects underway or starting this year on Highway 63 – the main access route for Alberta’s oil sands.

The new bridge will be 33 m wide and 472 m long, with a deck area of 15 576 m2. It will provide three lanes for northbound Highway 63 and two lanes for the northbound lanes from Franklin Ave., in Fort McMurray. The bridge will also include a 4.2 m wide sidewalk and major utility lines. The structure has been designed to carry up to a 6.4 m wide, 1.1 million kg overload vehicle, which is 12.5 times normal provincial highway bridge standards.
Approximately 50,000 vehicles per day use Highway 63 at the site of the
new bridge.

Other major work currently underway or schedule to start this year includes: completion of 16 km of Highway 63 twinning south of Fort McMurray at a cost of $53 million; completion of 17 km of twinning north of Fort McMurray at a cost of $80 million; repaving 70 km of Highway 63 north of Highway 55 and the addition of two new southbound passing lanes at a cost of $30 million, and the start of construction on the new Thickwood Blvd. and Confederation Way interchanges at an estimated cost of $300 million.

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