Roads are built to last between 15-25 years; bridges around 40. Canada’s National Highway system was built mostly in the 1950s. That means it’s passed middle-ages — it’s old.
While our roads are in visible need of attention, bridges are more complex. Flaws can be hidden from inspectors. “This discussion has gone on too long about financing and policy,” says Dr. Ghani Razaqpur, professor, chair and director of civil engineering at McMaster university. “We need to talk about technology. It’s important how and where you spend your money, but that alone won’t stop a bridge from failing.”
Razaqpur says that while it’s true that not many bridges have fallen, not many are quite old enough yet. Roads and bridges are only getting older and, while investments in maintenance have curbed ageing, it is not enough. In order to prioritize which structures are in need of repair or replacement, technology for better inspection is needed.
To read more on this topic, look for the November/December issue of ReNew Canada magazine. With commentary from policy-makers and engineers, ReNew explores the state of these ageing assets in Canada and how public perception affects policy and funding.