What we examined
The Department of Transportation is responsible for building and maintaining bridges on the Province’s highways. There are currently 4,400 bridge structures, comprised of 1,600 bridges and 2,800 bridge-sized culverts. The Department estimates the replacement value of these bridge structures to be $6.7 billion.
Our objective was to assess if the Department of Transportation has effective systems to manage the structural safety of bridges. To do that, we examined if the Department has adequate processes to:
- assess the condition and safety of bridges and identify work that should be done
- maintain the bridges to keep them safe and protect Albertans’ investment
- determine future needs for bridge rehabilitation and replacement
The Department conducts two types of inspections:
- Level 1 inspections, which are visual assessments of the bridge’s condition, using basic tools and equipment
- Level 2 inspections, which are in-depth inspections using specialized equipment
We concluded that the Department generally has well-designed systems to manage the structural safety of bridges. However, we had several significant findings where those systems were not operating as they should. We also found that the Department did not adequately track or report the actions taken in response to bridge inspections.
Consequently, the risk of the Department not maintaining bridges to ensure structural safety and not protecting Albertans investment is unnecessarily high. We did not find evidence of unsafe bridges.
Why it is important to Albertans
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.