LATEST NEWS Roadbuilding
September 28, 2007
Engineers should provide “owner’s manuals” for infrastructure
From coffee makers to cars, Canadian consumers are accustomed to receiving an extensive set of instructions and maintenance schedules with their purchases.
The usual documentation that goes with a completed infrastructure project: nothing.
“As engineers, we build projects worth millions of dollars, but when have we ever provided the purchaser with a detailed owner’s manual,” asks Saeed Mirza, past chair of the Technical Committee on the Rehabilitation of Infrastructure for the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and a McGill University professor. “We already know what kind of deterioration occurs from corrosion, freezing and thawing but these models aren’t being applied to predict the life-cycle of our infrastructure.”
Mirza, who spoke at the fourth annual Future of Canada’s Infrastructure conference in Toronto, notes consumers understand fully who is going to pay for maintaining their purchases. Less valuable items are easily replaced, while more valuable investments—like cars—will receive scheduled maintenance.
Putting off infrastructure maintenance for consideration by future generations is like waiting for your kids to grow up so they can pay for an oil change, he says. In some cases, Canadian infrastructure deficit estimates reflect the cost of deferring maintenance by 20, 50 or 100 years, then paying the bill all at once.
“It’s a normal business practice to consider depreciation,” says Mirza. “But if we examine water supply rates, for example, who pays for that depreciation? Shouldn’t the users pay the depreciation as the water is consumed?
“If deterioration of our infrastructure is allowed to occur without maintenance for 100 years or more, no source of funding will give us enough money to pay for replacing it all at once.”
Mirza notes that bridges designed to last 75 years are now only achieving life spans of 35 to 40 years due to lack of maintenance.
“Normal (annual) maintenance should be budgeted between two and four per cent of facility costs,” he says. “In Canada, the average is zero to two per cent.”
Mirza proposes a National Infrastructure Policy that forces builders and users alike to acknowledge infrastructure as a normal capital expenditure — complete with instruction booklet, projected depreciation costs and life cycle maintenance schedules.
|MOST POPULAR STORIES|
|TODAY’S TOP CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS|
These projects have been selected from 321 projects with a total value of $20,605,386,875 that Reed Construction Data Building Reports reported on Friday.
$500,000,000 Province of Ontario ON Prebid
$139,300,000 Toronto ON Prebid
$67,650,000 Toronto ON Prebid
- NTCCC takes to Parliament Hill tomorrow
- Emerald Park Progress
- “Super beam” installed in Montreal Champlain Bridge repair
- Is there energy gold to be mined in sewage processing?
- Ottawa LRT tunnel boring machines named
- Better transportation key to quality of life, states CivicAction
- Three World Cup stadiums behind schedule
- Ontario introduces legislation to help protect vulnerable workers
- Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar inspires design of new strip mall currently being built in Las Vegas
- VIDEO: Journal of Commerce Update for the week of December 9th, 2013
- Building the One
- New design-build contracts released
- Sales tax transition has been a mixed bag for industry
- Taseko files for judicial review of gold mine assessment
- Contract uncertainty and price escalation
- Edmonton college expansion moves ahead
- Council of Construction Associations names Dave Baspaly as new president
- $100 million added to Calgary's capital budget
- Massive investment will complete Kitimat smelter project
- Manitoba invests $45 million
- Corruption charge in probe of SNC-Lavalin