In his report, Auditor General Brian Bigger said he found that the city is not always keeping careful track of pavement recycled from resurfaced roads, which can be ground up and reused, saying he was unable to account for some 30,000 tonnes of recycled pavement.
The pavement — old asphalt removed from roads — is worth on average $15 per tonne.
But in a news release in which it said most of Bigger's recommendations from that audit have been or will be implemented, the city said that the asphalt in question is not, in fact, missing.
In the release, the municipality stated that all of the asphalt pulled up when roads are repaired has either been stockpiled on municipal land or has been used on other projects.
“Unfortunately, the nature of the material and the method of transporting and stockpiling ... are such that it is difficult to measure,” the news release states. “As such, during the audit process, the city was not able to provide exact quantities of material that were removed and re-used on specific projects, but the public can be assured the material was used for parking lots, erosion control and walkways.”
Further, the city said Greater Sudbury will continue “to monitor best practices” when it comes to the use and storage of reclaimed asphalt. If the the material cannot be used or stored, it will be directed to go to the contractor for use on future projects.
“We are fortunate to have in our community a group of contractors committed to quality control as well as dedicated and skilled staff who perform inspections and contract administration,” Tony Cecutti, the general manager of Infrastructure Services, said. “We look forward to continuing to work with our contractors and the auditor general, who has acknowledged the city as a leader in northern Ontario in terms of current asphalt technologies and design.”
Although the auditor's report calls into question the quality of the asphalt used on the repair of some streets, the news release stated that the city has no concerns with the future performance of roads completed under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, or the other roads reviewed in the report.
An update from city staff on the progress of improvement measures is expected at the upcoming Oct. 15 Operations Committee 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.
Among issues he raised 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 said in the report that he found the asphalt being built into city roads was not being tested to ensure it met standards. 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.
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.