In 2012 we reported the results of our audit of the Department of Transportation’s systems to manage the structural safety of bridges. We concluded that the department generally had well-designed systems but identified several significant findings resulting in nine recommendations to improve processes related to:

  • inspection contracting, quality and frequency
  • contractor certification
  • bridge information system access
  • maintenance activity reporting
  • capital planning submissions

We have followed up on the department’s progress in implementing the recommendations and have concluded the department has implemented seven of the recommendations.

Overall conclusion

The department has made significant improvement to processes to inspect and monitor the structural safety of Alberta’s bridges. We did not find evidence of unsafe bridges when completing our follow-up audit procedures. Processes to contract inspections to independent third parties still require improvement. The department’s decisions on selecting contractors lack clarity, and it should complete an analysis on the cost effectiveness of contracting out these services.

What we found

The department improved its systems to manage the structural safety of bridges by:

  • collecting information on the duration of each bridge inspection
  • re-designing the contractor certification process and ensuring all inspectors are certified
  • implementing an overdue inspection process
  • monitoring that contractors comply with standards
  • monitoring access to the bridge information system
  • reporting inspection activities and results to executive management
  • improving its capital plan submissions

What needs to be done

We repeat two recommendations related to the department’s process to contract external parties to monitor the safety of bridges. The department has not fully implemented recommendations to:

  • improve contracting processes for visual inspections
  • regularly assess if contracting out the inspections is cost effective

Why this is important to Albertans

The Department of Transportation is responsible for ensuring the safety of bridges across Alberta. Well maintained bridges are necessary to ensure the safety of Albertans and protect their investment. Many of Alberta’s major industries rely on the highway system to move goods.

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