In his report on the state of Greater Sudbury's roads, the city's top auditor revealed some troubling news about quality control and poor design when it comes to the Nickel City's streets.
Brian Bigger released his report during a meeting of the Audit Committee on Aug. 14. Northern Life reporter Darren MacDonald is tweeting live from the meeting.
Part of Bigger's 2012 Audit Work Plan, the roads repair system review — officially titled “Impact of Changes To Road Design (Asphalt Grindings and Road Crossfall)” — was to look at ways to save money when the city repairs roads. Among items under review were the specifications when road contracts are tendered, and ways to ensure the city’s asphalt assets are properly accounted for.
Basically, Bigger looked at the procedures and policies used when roads are resurfaced, and what he found will likely raise some eyebrows around the council table and beyond.
Among issues he raises in the report are problems with quality control when it comes to road repair, as well as questions of what happens to asphalt from old roads.
Bigger told the committee that the asphalt being built into city roads was not being tested to ensure it met standards. This could explain why local roadways seem to crumble so quickly after being rebuilt, a common observation in the city, but not one that had previously been tested.
Tests done by the auditor on some rebuilt roads have found anywhere from 20- to 100 per cent of the asphalt on some recent projects were below standard.
In other words, major sections of Lasalle Boulevard, Regent Street and Radar Road contain asphalt that is not strong enough to withstand the rigours of daily traffic and weather.
According to the report, city staff was using the wrong formula when testing the asphalt mix being laid down. Committee members were told that the standard being tested was not the standard specified in the contracts.
In terms of design, Bigger also found that a way of building roads used in Sudbury aimed at minimizing the effects of water — and thereby prolonging the life of the roadway — was not being followed.
Under city contract specifications, roads are to be built at an angle, called a crossfall, to maximize water runoff and minimize water damage. Poor water drainage will lead to cracks and potholes, and will reduce the lifespan of a road considerably, the report said.
Bigger's report also found that the city is not always keeping careful track of pavement recycled from resurfaced roads. This pavement can be ground up and reused, but in his audit Bigger discovered that 30,000 tonnes of recycled pavement has gone missing.
And it comes at a price. The pavement — old asphalt removed from roads — is worth $15 per tonne.
That means $450,000 worth of recycled pavement is missing and, according to Bigger, no one seems to know where it went.
In future, the auditor recommended the recycled pavement be carefully tracked. If mixed in with new asphalt, it could mean huge savings on future projects.
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