FNX-INNOV has been commissioned by Quebec’s Ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable to carry out quality control and materials engineering for the extension of Route 138. The 9.1-km stretch between Tête-à-la-Baleine and La Tabatière will help reduce the isolation of residents who currently have to travel by boat, plane or snowmobile.

The Highway 138 extension project aims to link the communities of the Lower North Shore to each other and to the rest of Quebec. Nearly 5,000 residents live in this region, which is divided into five municipalities, one unorganized territory and two aboriginal communities, along nearly 400 km of the St. Lawrence River. Until now, the population of the Lower North Shore has had to rely on sea or air services to meet its needs. Only in winter is the region accessible by land via the Route blanche, a snowmobile trail. The overall project was segmented into several sections, including the “Tête-à-la-Baleine to La Tabatière” section, for which FNX-INNOV was awarded a mandate.

The Route 138 extension project is No. 85 on ReNew Canada’s 2024 Top100 Projects report.

The mandate obtained by FNX-INNOV for this project involved quality control and materials engineering for the construction of two road segments with a total length of 9.1 km, as well as a 161.2 m span steel-concrete structure including three continuous spans composed of steel beams. The structure is considered complex and will cross the Lac de Gros-Mécatina river. Specific technical elements involving the treatment of organic soils, as well as clay consolidation work using pre-loading backfill, counterweights and the installation of vertical drains will be carried out as part of this mandate.

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Challenges include logistics, geography and climate. Firstly, due to the remoteness of the site, transportation of equipment by boat, plane and helicopter will be necessary, and potential delays due to weather conditions are to be expected. In addition, it will be necessary to install a materials testing laboratory directly on the worksite, so that work can be carried out nearby. Secondly, the local manufacture of granular materials and cement concrete will present compliance challenges. Finally, the short summer period will require adaptations for cold-weather work, with clear communication of expectations to the contractor.

The main activities to be carried out as part of the mandate will include the following:

  • Draw up the Quality Control and Action Plan (QCAP) and update it as work progresses;
  • Verify and approve the conformity of all materials used;
  • Verification and acceptance of cement concrete mix specification sheets;
  • Take samples on site or directly from the supplier;
  • Carry out laboratory tests on all samples taken during construction and submitted;
  • Advice to the supervisor on the preparation of subgrade soils or engineering structure foundations, the location of transitions or any problems related to soil behavior;
  • Verification of placement and compactness of granular materials of all types;
  • Verification of placement and compactness, including sampling of asphalt mixes (not planned a priori);
  • Perform tests on fresh or hardened concrete;
  • Compilation of site logs, intervention with supervisor and transmission of appropriate recommendations;
  • Attend worksite meetings as quality assurance representative for the Department;
  • Analysis and transmission to supervisor of test/measurement results for material control in laboratory and on site;
  • If necessary, sample and analyze soil or water from excavations to verify the level of contamination in accordance with current regulations;
  • Receiving inspection of steel elements and assisting with bolt assembly and tightening;
  • Control of backfill placement in peat bog areas or areas subject to settlement;
  • Monitoring of instrumentation during consolidation and clay behavior in peat bog areas.
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Featured image: (FNX-INNOV)

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