Category Archives: Transportation

Call for funds to fix Melbourne’s Loop problems

MELBOURNE’S City Loop has ”heavy” concrete corrosion, water ”leaching all over the place” and emergency systems that should be improved, inspections by Victoria’s independent transport safety watchdog have revealed.

Alan Osborne, the man in charge of safety on Victoria’s rail system, has called on the Baillieu government to commit significant funds to fix the problems of the city’s underground tunnels.

Mr Osborne, the director of transport safety at Transport Safety Victoria, ordered the inspections after The Age revealed in September that the loop’s serious structural problems had been ignored by successive state governments.

Mr Osborne told The Age that there was no immediate risk to passenger safety, but it was important the issues were dealt with to avoid deterioration and possible derailments. ”There’s a lot of inspections … but there comes a point where you need to bite the bullet and do some major pieces of work,” he said.

The position and width of the walkway means that, in the event of a train fire in the loop, passengers in wheelchairs would have to wait, Mr Osborne concluded. He said inspections by Transport Safety Victoria had confirmed:

  • The fasteners holding the rails to the tunnel floor were ”quite heavily corroded” in some places. The extra water ”leaching all over the place” and problems with the concrete had created ”a more corrosive environment than was expected”.
  • Drawings of the fire-protected areas of underground stations have been lost.
  • A number of systems at the underground stations, such as testing of emergency warnings, could be improved.

Under freedom of information laws The Age requested further reports on the state of the loop from its state-owned insurer, the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority. But the authority declined the request, saying the release of information about safety procedures, access points and general emergency responses was a security risk.

Mr Osborne said he would like to see a plan put forward for the long-term renewal of the tunnel, which carries more than 150,000 Melburnian commuters each week day. This would include updating the loop’s control systems, the ventilation system, improving waterproofing and drainage and replacing the concrete rail sleepers.

This is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, but some of the work is already afoot. A $2.5 million project is attempting to seal water leaks, 6000 sleepers will be repaired by March 2013, and the Department of Transport is con- ducting further tests on the ventilation system after a CSIRO report found smoke extraction fans were performing to a capacity of only 25 per cent.

Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell said two independent engineering assessments on the loop had concluded safety standards had been met. ”It is important to note that extensive tests carried out by Metro have not found any serious safety issues.”

The company conducts daily inspections, weekly walk-throughs by a shift gang, monthly bolt inspections and six-monthly rail flaw inspections, Ms Mitchell said.

The department said the structural integrity of the loop remained ”fit for purpose”.

Mr Mulder said he continued to receive advice about the loop issues from the department, but any major works to the emergency walkway were impractical. ”Because of the presence of utilities [tunnel services] and the tunnel’s shape, altering the walkways to be elevated would narrow their width and reduce passenger headroom,” he said.



More Corrosion discovered at the Champlain Bridge

Repairs to the Champlain Bridge will involve a new type of reinforcement to deal with growing problems with corrosion in the bridge’s deck.

In 2012, there will be at least that many weekend closings, maybe more, said Glen Carlin, general manager of the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.

Carlin was speaking at a media briefing he said is part of a new effort by the federal agency to reassure the public about safety and to be more transparent about the state of the Champlain.

In 2011, $33.3 million (C$) was spent on Champlain repairs, including the repaving of 2.75 kilometres, the replacement of five expansion joints and the reinforcement of several girders and piers.

In 2012, the tab will be $34 million (C$), including 700 metres of repaving and four new expansion joints.

For the first time in 2012, repairs may be done in winter, but they will not affect traffic because they will take place under the bridge, Carlin said.

In the past, reinforcement work involved adding high strength steel cables along the outside edge of the bridge.

Now, work will also involve installing steel cables transversally under the bridge.

“The beams on the bridge are all knit together” with transverse cables, Carlin said. “These cables are starting to get affected by corrosion.” The new cables “will reinstate this transverse posttensioning.”

In 2012, there will be a lot more work on two adjacent federally owned stretches: The Bonaventure Expressway, between the Champlain and the Lachine Canal. The government will spend $11 million, up from $7.2 million.

Highway 15, between the Champlain and Atwater Ave. Ottawa will spend $19 million, almost five times the $4.2 million spent this year. This hike is because of major repairs to Champlain approaches.

A 2010 inspection report obtained by The Gazette last month showed that two overpasses on the Montreal approach to the Champlain are in “mediocre” condition, their concrete crumbling and reinforcement steel corroding. One overpass must be replaced while the other must undergo major repairs.

In addition, the report said a secondary span known as the Nuns’ Island Bridge is deteriorating “very quickly” and requires major repairs.

The Champlain is decaying prematurely because it was not designed to withstand the use of road salt. Because of its unusual design, Ottawa says it would be too expensive and disruptive to traffic to repair it for the long term.

In 2009, Ottawa began a 10-year, $212-million program to repair the Champlain until a new span is built.

This year, another $158 million was added – $27 million for the Champlain, the rest for Highway 15 and the Bonaventure.

The work will extend the life of the structures until 2021. Ottawa says it hopes to have a $3-billion replacement bridge in place by then.

“If the bridge is going to be late by a year or two, we will do what would have to be done to make sure that the existing bridge can be extended by that type of duration,” Carlin said.

“More than that, it’s kind of like planning for something we shouldn’t be planning for. The goal is to get the new bridge in place within the next 10 years.”

A 2010 study warned the Champlain was so dilapidated there was a risk of a partial bridge collapse.

Major repairs have been done since then and the Champlain is monitored closely, Carlin said.

“We are fully confident in its safety. We wanted to show everything that we’re doing to ensure that any risks that are out there on the bridge are being managed,” he said.

“If there’s any doubt regarding safety, we’ll take any measures that are required,” he added, including closing lanes or the entire bridge.

The bridge is crucial for commuters and the transportation of goods. It’s used by about 160,000 vehicles daily, including 14,400 trucks and 400 public-transit buses

Cessna Unveils Corrosion Inspection Program

Cessna is launching one of the largest aging aircraft programs to be undertaken for a fleet of single-piston airplanes.

The Wichita plane maker has developed a supplemental inspection program designed to stem concerns of possible corrosion and fatigue stress on its fleet of nearly 145,000 100- and 200-series single-engine aircraft produced between 1946 and 1986. The inspections are being added to service manuals for 200-series aircraft this month and for 100-series aircraft in April, the airframer says.

Compliance deadlines for the inspection program will be two years after the programs are release–December 2013 for the 200 series, and June 2014 for the 100 series.

“The supplemental inspection program we’ve developed is primarily a visual process aimed at supporting the continued airworthiness of aging airframes,” says Beth Gamble, Cessna’s principal engineer for airframe structures. “Corrosion and fatigue are inevitable, but with early detection and proper maintenance, severity and effects can be minimized.”

Cessna says the inspection program was reviewed by a customer focus group, and its members “all agree that the inspections are appropriate and necessary.”

The company notes the average age of the affected fleet is 42 years old, and that the aircraft were produced under the former Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) Part 3 – the predecessor to the current Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. CAR did not have life-limited strength requirements nor targeted inspections for metal fatigue, Cessna notes.

Corrosion has been found in the cabin interiors and main landing gear of all models of the 100 and 200 series, Cessna says. In addition, corrosion has been found in the cantilever carry thru and cantilever wing attachments on Models 177 and 210, as well as on aircraft with strut-based wing spars.

Further fatigue cracking has been found on the horizontal stabilizer front spars of 200 series, particularly in aircraft with 9,500 + hr. Fatigue cracking also has been discovered on the vertical stabilizer attach fittings on the 150/152 aircraft, which are used for training and aerobatic moves. Fatigue cracking has been an issue in the forward door post at strut attachments on a number of models and in the rudder bar assembly on all the models.

The inspections vary by model, aircraft age and hours of operation, Cessna says, but adds the program was developed to coincide with the annual inspection. For a low-time, well-maintained aircraft, the inspections can take less than 10 hr. The program can entail 15-20 visual inspections using a borescope and/or magnifying glass. The program also encompasses five inspections that are based on existing service bulletins.

But more invasive nondestructive inspections are required when corrosion is found, cracks are suspected or for high-time airplanes (12,000+ hr.) and cases of severe usage (with 6,000+ hr.).

“The new inspection requirements we’ve developed are very simple, and are based on visual inspection that can be done quickly by a trained inspector during an annual inspection,” Gamble says. Cessna has provided training and specific inspection equipment to its authorized service providers. Cessna launched an education initiative to explain the inspections to operators. This includes an interactive presentation and short video on Cessna’s YouTube channel. “Through this education effort, we hope to answer most questions before we release the revised service manuals, Gamble says. “We encourage owners to check in with their local Cessna service affiliate at the appropriate times to have the mandatory inspections completed.”


Inspection showed Mercier Bridge corrosion trouble in 2006

Five years before Quebec closed part of the Mercier Bridge due to dangerously deteriorating steel plates on the span’s provincial side, an inspection found plates on the federal side were corroding and had to be replaced.

The report said repairing the plates – steel connectors that hold together the bridge’s girders and beams – should be a top priority.

“These gusset plates play a major role in the integrity of the bridge structure,” the report stated. “Therefore, the progress of corrosion at these plates must be monitored, and, if necessary, a capacity assessment should be done to evaluate more accurately the behavior of the material affected by the corrosion.”

The inspections were commissioned by Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc., which owns the federal side of the Mercier.

Ottawa reinforced about 50 gussets in 2008, replacing two and repairing the rest. Meanwhile, Quebec, long criticized for neglecting transportation infrastructure, decided not to do work on its gussets.

The Mercier’s federal half was built in the late 1950s, while the provincial part that was closed for gusset repairs went up in the early 1930s.

The 2006 report, by an engineering firm, paints a troubling picture of the Mercier at the time.

For example, it warns the bridge’s side curbs and median were so deteriorated that cars that accidentally plowed into them could be launched into oncoming traffic or off the bridge.

Follow-up federal inspections in 2007, 2008 and 2009 also disclosed in response to the access-to-info request, found that repairs helped improve the overall condition of the bridge’s federal half.

The disclosure that federal officials were advised about gusset deterioration as early as 2006 is another indication Transport Quebec may have missed crucial corrosion on the provincial side.

If the deterioration had been caught earlier, traffic disruptions that affected tens of thousands of commuters during the Mercier closing could have been avoided.

To fix its gusset plates, Transport Quebec closed two of the Mercier’s four lanes on June 14. One of the closed lanes reopened Sept. 6. But, to allow for ongoing gusset work, the bridge still goes down to two lanes overnight and on weekends. All four lanes are to be permanently reopened by December.

This summer, Quebec initially refused to make public the inspection of its side of the Mercier, finally relenting in September under pressure from the public, engineers, politicians and the media.

In September, Transport Minister Pierre Moreau said provincial plates deteriorated “at a faster rate than what was expected” and the damage could not have been caught earlier.

Independent engineers question this version of events, noting corrosion does not speed up.

The 2006 inspection report recommended 37 repairs, nine of which were classified as “A” priority jobs, meaning they were “necessary to maintain the integrity of the system’s structure and of its auxiliary components.”

The first item on the list of top-priority repairs: gusset plates, which, the report said, should be reinforced by 2010.

The report recommended close to $32 million in federal repairs.

The $74-million federal expenditure is part of a $174-million Mercier overhaul that Ottawa and Quebec began in 2008 and that is to be completed by 2014. Quebec has not said how much it has spent on the project so far.

The 2006 federal inspection was the last general inspection of the bridge.



British engineers help to save WWII Dornier Do-17 German bomber from its last battle – Corrosion

Researchers from Imperial College London are working with the Royal Air Force Museum to clean the Dornier Do-17, known as The Flying Pencil (Fliegender Bleistift), and prevent further corrosion once it is removed from the water.

In 2010, shifting sands uncovered the aircraft, which lies off the Kent coast and was previously protected by layers of sediment, exposing it to the corrosive effects of seawater and threatening to destroy the aircraft entirely.

Dr Mary Ryan from Imperial’s Department of Materials, who is working on the project, said: ‘This is the last remaining intact Flying Pencil of its kind in the entire world, so the significance of this project to our history cannot be underestimated.”

‘We have been analyzing fragments already brought to the surface and it is absolutely fascinating to see how this bomber, which crash landed more than 70 years ago, has been so well preserved by the layers of sand.’

One of the challenges for the Imperial team is devising a method for cleaning and removing the corroded layers from the Flying Pencil’s aluminium fuselage, which contains large amounts of the corrosive agent chloride from the seawater.

The researchers are currently testing a solution based on citric acid, which is found in high concentrations in citrus fruit, to remove the surface layers of corrosion and sea deposits such as crustaceans from small pieces of wreckage already retrieved.

The aim is to develop a solution that is powerful enough to clean the bomber, but not so powerful that it damages any remaining paint and markings on the aircraft, which are of historical significance. Any remaining chloride on the metal surface could lead to further attacks of corrosion when the plane is on display.

The Imperial team will also help to work out the best environmental conditions for displaying the bomber in the museum. For example, too much humidity in the air could lead to condensation on the metal, which would activate further corrosion.

Once the research is complete, a team from the museum, working with specialist underwater archaeologists and recovery experts, will use a lifting cradle to support the weight of the fragile aircraft as it is brought to the surface, currently planned for spring 2012.

The Flying Pencil was brought down by the RAF on 26 August 1940, during the height of the Battle of Britain while en route to attack airfields in Essex with a large German formation.

It crashed into the shallows off Goodwin Sands killing two of the crew members, who were later recovered and buried in a military cemetery. The other two crewmen were taken prisoner.

Ian Thirsk, head of collections from the Royal Air Force Museum, said: ‘At the moment, we are attempting to trace the relatives of the crew members who survived this fateful mission, in order to help engage visitors to the museum about the human story behind this episode of the war.

‘As the last surviving example of the Dornier Do-17, this aircraft is truly unique. We think this old bomber has one last scrap left in her — the battle against corrosion.’

Once the aircraft is lifted from the seabed, it will then be transferred to the museum’s conservation facility at Cosford, and then placed on display in the planned Battle of Britain Beacon Wing at the museum’s London site.


FAA Warns of Corrosion on Boeing 757 Tails

U.S. regulators want airlines to check for corrosion on movable tail parts on hundreds of Boeing 757 jets that could result in pilots losing control of aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed on Monday a mandatory safety directive covering devices that control tail sections, called horizontal stabilizers, that help raise and lower the noses of more than 700 Boeing 757s flown by U.S. carriers. Eventually, the checks are expected to apply to hundreds of additional Boeing 757s operated by overseas airlines.

A Boeing Co. spokeswoman said it supported the proposal, which builds on its nonbinding safety recommendations that carriers regularly inspect and lubricate the affected parts. She said that Boeing clarified those recommendations last year. An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment.

The move comes nearly 11 years after a maintenance lapse helped cause a similar device to fail on the tail of an Alaska Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-83 off the Southern California coast, rendering the plane uncontrollable and sending it into a dive that killed all 88 people aboard. Investigators eventually determined that faulty aircraft design, slipshod maintenance and inadequate federal oversight all contributed to the high-profile accident.

In 2002, the National Transportation Safety Board called on Boeing and other aircraft makers to launch a “systematic engineering review” to prevent such potentially catastrophic failures of flight controls on thousands of jetliners.

According to the FAA, part of the 757’s horizontal stabilizer-control system is similar to a screw-style mechanism that failed on the Alaska jet, and may be subject to similar types of failures.

Since that accident, Chicago-based Boeing’s design reviews and safety analyses found “extensive corrosion” on one 757 that “could lead to loss of control of the horizontal stabilizer and consequent loss of control of the airplane,” according to the FAA.

The agency’s proposal is expected to be released for comment Tuesday, though it could take months to become final.

The proposal is unusual because it generally calls for tougher inspection standards and, in some cases, appears to envision tighter compliance deadlines than those previously issued by Boeing to detect and replace suspect parts. In January 2010, Boeing issued various updated service bulletins calling for repeated inspections to look for worn, cracked, corroded or loose-fitting parts, called ballscrews, on certain 757 jetliners.

Such maintenance bulletins aren’t binding on carriers, but airlines typically follow the advice of manufacturers unless the FAA or other regulators issue alternate directives.

As part of its proposed directive, the FAA’s criteria for immediate replacement of parts is twice as stringent as the latest standard Boeing issued last year. The FAA also wants airlines to ensure that replacement parts are new or have been properly overhauled, and the agency envisions initial inspections of some planes within six months of the final rule.


All aboard! Coastal rail service shakes off corrosion

Southport Lumber Company’s first rail car shipment has left the North Spit, and is on it’s way to Eugene.

Things got off to a rocky start Thursday morning, as the train left about four hours behind schedule.

General manager of the railroad, Tom Foster says, that’s to be expected when you’ve had fours years of inactivity on the rail line.

“Last night, we got everything lined up and ready to go and we were anticipating leaving early this morning and being out of here and on our way to Eugene with 12 loads. We’ve got the 12 loads, we’ve just had a little slower time than what we thought,” explains Foster.

He goes onto say, that the line is suffering from what he calls “rusty rail syndrome.”

Because it’s so wet here on the coast, corrosion piles up on the tracks, making the connection to the crossings inoperable.

For now, the port will have two people manning each crossing.

But all the trouble is not in vain. Foster says, Southport is pleased with the rail because it’s giving them another option.

“Before, the only option out of here was truck. Now all of a sudden, you know, they’ve sold 12 loads, they’ve got more loads sold next week, we’re gonna have more cars down here. We worked out some agreements with Union Pacific Railroad that’s gonna allow us to do that, so there’s gonna be a lot more movement both here,” replies Foster.

You can expect to see one train a week, running south on Monday or Tuesday, and heading north on Thursday or Friday.

And just to give you a comparison, this 12 load train hauls the equivalent of 36 trucks.


Corrosion problems identified in Melbourne’s City Loop

Serious structural problems in Melbourne’s City Loop – including cracking tunnel walls, concrete corrosion  – have been ignored by successive state governments and train operators despite repeated warnings.

A 2001 report, also obtained by The Age, revealed the loop was suffering from long-term structural corrosion caused by possible contamination of the original concrete mix.

Damage to concrete plinths was leading to ”heavy corrosion” of steel reinforcements, potentially undermining the tracks. At worst, a derailment ”must be considered possible”, said the report, commissioned by infrastructure contractor Thiess Infraco.

Transport Safety Victoria has also expressed concern about the 30-year-old loop, after receiving a letter of complaint from the train drivers’ union. The letter, addressed to Metro and copied to the Coroner, said drivers had ”grave concerns” about the operator’s failure to address evacuation procedures.

The drivers say they are not trained for emergencies in the loop. Their occupational health and safety representatives yesterday issued Metro with a formal warning that will trigger a WorkSafe investigation.

The Age investigation into City Loop safety has revealed:

  • Drawings of fire-protected areas of underground stations have been lost.
  • A recent CSIRO study of the smoke extraction fans found some were performing to a capacity of only 25 per cent.
  • Train drivers have noticed record levels of water seeping through the walls, along the tracks and on the emergency walkways. Metro says, however, that the water is not a safety risk.
  • Train drivers have been asking Metro for six months for an after-hours train to inspect the tunnels. Metro has refused.

Metro, which took over the rail system from Connex in 2009, could not confirm yesterday whether these problems had been tackled.

But it said structural problems with the concrete would be addressed in a rehabilitation program starting next April.

Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell said 6125 sleepers would also be replaced by November as part of general maintenance.

She said two independent reports – one commissioned by government and one by Metro – had concluded that safety standards had been met.

In a statement to The Age, the Department of Transport said the loop was performing ”optimally” and ”a range of maintenance, repair and mitigation” measures had been conducted since the 2001 report.

The loop had been tested – including state-of-the-art smoke testing – and emergency exercises completed. ”The department believes the potential for a train derailment in the rail loop is extremely low,” it said.

”The emergency walkways located in the loop are subject to ongoing maintenance and repair.” Representatives from the government’s insurance authority had recently inspected the walkways and found them in an ”adequate condition”.

Transport Minister Terry Mulder did not answer when asked by The Age whether he knew about the reports. But he said he expected the department and Metro to hold safety as paramount. ”As minister, my priority is for the safety and security of passengers,” he said.


12 Montreal structures considered critical due to corrosion

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said on Wednesday that 12 bridges, tunnels and overpasses in the city identified by engineers as being in critical condition.

“We have the reports from our engineers that these structures are safe,” Tremblay told reporters at city hall, where technical details on 35 structures were made public.

“From the moment one of our engineers or technicians informs (us) they are not safe, we will close the structure or limit access to it either by (reducing the number of) lanes or limiting the load.

“Just because it is critical doesn’t mean it isn’t safe.”

The mayor also said his administration is raising the annual average amount needed for repairs to $50 million from $30 million because of the advancing age of the 586 structures in the city of Montreal’s network. The request for more funds will be made in a new three-year infrastructure plan to be unveiled Thursday, Tremblay said.

On Wednesday, the city of Montreal made public inspection reports for 35 infrastructures on its territory. Of the 12 listed in “critical” condition, two are closed to the public, and one has undergone major repairs since the information was collected late last year.

The 12 in “critical” condition are:

  • Henri Bourassa Blvd. E./Pie IX Blvd. overpass
  • The former Wellington St. Tunnel under the Lachine Canal
  • Henri Bourassa Blvd. E./Metropolitan Blvd. E overpass
  • Rockland Ave./Bates Rd. overpass
  • Beaudry Tunnel, north side of Notre Dame St. E., near the Port of Montreal (private roadway)
  • Jean Talon St. W. overpass (west of Wilderton Ave.)
  • Jolicoeur St. bridge over Montreal Aqueduct
  • CN Rail bridge crossing l’Acadie Blvd., north of de Louvain St.
  • Park Ave. overpass/Highway 40 and service roads
  • Henri Bourassa Blvd. E./Sherbrooke St. E. overpass
  • Upper Lachine Rd./St. Jacques St. overpass
  • Snow ramp at St. Michel Quarry (no public access)

The reports detail the sites’ deterioration:

  • The Henri Bourassa Blvd. E./Pie IX Blvd. site has support walls that are severely cracked. Exposed reinforcement bars have also been badly corroded.
  • Pillars have a series of cracks in them, with eroded concrete.
  • The Wellington Tunnel, which has been out of service since the roadway was rebuilt as an overpass, suffers severe corrosion on 66 per cent of the structure’s support system.
  • The Henri Bourassa Blvd. E./Metropolitan Blvd. site has corroded beams and severe damage to the structure’s decking, with a risk of falling concrete.
  • The Rockland Ave. overpass’s support structure has lost about 10 per cent of its load-bearing capacity. Concrete is eroding and exposing reinforcement bars to rust and corrosion.
  • The Beaudry Tunnel has severe water damage.
  • Jean Talon St. W. overpass has severe corrosion to its support structure.
  • The Jolicoeur St. Bridge has cracks covering 30 per cent of the supporting walls’ surface.
  • The CN Rail bridge crossing l’Acadie Blvd. has cracks covering 100 per cent of its supporting pillars. About 15 per cent of the supporting walls’ surface is severely damaged.
  • Park Ave. overpass/Highway 40 and service roads: Expansion joints have been paved over. About 40 per cent of the joints’ surface is defective.
  • On the Henri Bourassa Blvd. E./Sherbrooke St. E. overpass, about 80 per cent of the concrete on the eastern wall is severely chipped.
  • At the Upper Lachine Rd./St. Jacques St. overpass, 40 per cent of the support walls’ concrete is severely chipped, exposing reinforcement bars to corrosion.
  • At the snow-dumping ramp at the St. Michel Quarry, 90 per cent of the support wall is covered in cracks, chips and ruptures.

No immediate repairs are planned for the Wellington Tunnel and the Beaudry Tunnel, as both sites are off-limits to the public.

An additional site, the St. Jean Baptiste Blvd. overpass at Highway 40/Metropolitan Blvd. E., was missing waterproofing membrane along its expansion joints, causing moisture to seep in. Concrete was also badly damaged along the joints. Repairs have begun at this site.

In Montreal’s disclosure, the city made public, for each of 35 structures, one-or twopage “inspection summary sheets” on which engineers have rated the deterioration of various elements. For each of the 35, photos of trouble spots were also provided.

Richard Bergeron, of the opposition Projet Montréal party, accused the city of holding back more detailed “engineers’ reports” for its structures.

But city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin denied that. He said the documents made public Wednesday are the complete inspection reports. “We don’t have any other reports,” Sabourin said.

By month’s end, the city is to publish on its website more information about the 520 other structures under its control. For those, Montreal will release the same type of “inspection summary sheets” but will not include photos, Sabourin said.

Tremblay said the city will henceforth provide annual updates on the state of every one of its structures via its website.

This week, Quebec Transport Minister Pierre Moreau pledged to make public inspection reports for all 10,000 structures under his control.

He did not provide a timeline.


12 SEPTA railcars damaged by Hurricane Irene could take weeks to fix – Corrosion Issues

Twelve of the 16 SEPTA railcars stuck in Trenton during Hurricane Irene will be sidelined for weeks as water damage is repaired, SEPTA officials said.

Caught by the unexpected rise of a creek that was “not on our radar screen,” SEPTA rail operations managers realized too late that the trains could be in harm’s way.

They say they will shuffle cars in SEPTA’s 365-car fleet to deal with the shortage created by the missing 12 on the Trenton line.

The rapid rise of the Assunpink Creek, which flows next to the tracks near the Trenton station, left 16 SEPTA cars stranded. Four were on tracks far enough north to avoid flood damage and have been returned to service.

But the other 12 incurred extensive corrosion and damage to their electrical motors, said Luther Diggs, SEPTA’s assistant general manager of operations. He said it might take weeks or months to repair the cars and return them to service. He did not estimate how much the repairs would cost.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Diggs said. “We’re digging into it now. We did see a lot of corrosion. Those cars sat up there a long time.”

Diggs said the absence of the cars would not cause much overcrowding for SEPTA passengers because newly arrived Silverliner V (see photo above) cars are beginning to ease SEPTA’s chronic shortage of cars.

“It should be invisible to our passengers,” Diggs said.

Diggs said SEPTA relied on previous storm experience in assuming it could safely leave the cars in Trenton during Hurricane Irene.

And five of the cars would have left on regularly scheduled runs to Philadelphia hours before Irene hit if Amtrak had not halted all train service on that section of the Northeast Corridor shortly before the trains were scheduled to depart, Diggs said.

Amtrak and NJ Transit stored out-of-service trains at their rail yard in Morrisville and they escaped damage, but SEPTA does not have a nearby yard.

Ron Hopkins, SEPTA’s chief control center officer, said SEPTA officials had tracked National Weather Service predictions for a number of creeks in SEPTA’s service area, and moved railcars and other vehicles out of the way, following standard pre-storm procedures.

But the Assunpink was not one that SEPTA was watching.

The creek, which is normally less than four feet deep, crested at 15.1 feet after Irene, setting a record, Hopkins said. As recently as 2007, the stream had risen to 13 feet without causing a problem, he said.

The creek crested at 14.6 feet in a 1976 storm, but that was before SEPTA took over operations of the railroad.

“The Assunpink never has been on our radar screen before,” Diggs said. “It just came out of nowhere.”

If they had it to do over again, SEPTA officials said, they would have moved the cars to a Philadelphia-area yard before the storm, or shifted them north to the Ham Interlocking area, where the other four cars remained above water.