Engineer who designed Saskatchewan. bridge that collapsed hours after opening in the face of a disciplinary hearing

Regina engineer Scott Gullacher will face a disciplinary hearing next month over allegations he broke rules when he designed a bridge in rural Saskatchewan that collapsed just hours later its opening to the public.

On September 14, 2018, the Rural Municipality (RM) of Clayton announced on their Facebook page that “The Dyck Memorial Bridge is now complete and open”.

Later that same day, the bridge collapsed. No one was hurt.

In an interview just days after the collapse, RM Warden Duane Hicks said some of the piles the bridge was built on had collapsed.

“So something tells me something underground happened. I don’t know what it was. They don’t know what it was. Nobody knows what it is,” he said. he says.

At the time, Hicks called it an “act of God.”

However, there may have been another explanation.

Hicks also revealed that the engineer who designed the bridge, Scott Gullacher, did not carry out a geotechnical survey of the riverbed before installing the piles.

After years of investigation, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) posted a notice on its website on Wednesday saying Gullacher will face a disciplinary hearing in early June.

Regina engineer Scott Gullacher faces a disciplinary hearing next month over his work designing a bridge that collapsed. (LinkedIn)

The association alleges that Gullacher failed to practice “carefully and diligently” when he designed the bridge and the screw piles that were supposed to hold it in place. APEGS also claims that Gullacher was offering services or advice in an area outside of his professional competence.

Additionally, the association alleges it was not “careful and diligent” in its design of bridges in four other Saskatchewan RMs, including Scott, Caledonia, Purdue and Mervin.

Gullacher also faces lawsuits

These bridges are also the subject of a series of lawsuits.

The Rural Municipality of Clayton sued Gullacher and two companies he and his wife control: Can-Struct Systems Ltd., which is described as a “bridge building” business, and Inertia Solutions Ltd., which provides construction services. engineering.

The RM alleged that Gullacher and his companies breached their contract because the bridge was supposed to last 75 years, but was only in place for a few hours. The lawsuit points out that Gullacher did not “design and/or build a bridge that would not immediately collapse.”

The lawsuit states that “no geotechnical report was prepared to determine the subsoil conditions below the bridge” and that “Can-Struct’s bridge design contemplated the use of screw piles as opposed to standard driven piles.” Of the industry”.

The RM gave the instruction that no geotechnical investigation should be obtained as the RM was concerned about additional costs and delays.– Memorandum in defense of Scott Gullacher and Inertia

In response to the lawsuit, Gullacher and his companies agreed that they had not done a geotechnical investigation, but insisted that it was at the request of the client.

“The RM gave the instruction that no geotechnical investigation should be obtained as the RM was concerned about the additional costs and delays,” the Gullacher and Inertia defense states.

“Inertia admits that part of the bridge collapsed,” the statement said, “but denies that its design or specifications caused the collapse and puts the claimant on strict evidence thereof.”

Inertia says RM could be blamed because it decided to forego geotechnical work. It also states that after the bridge was built, the RM “installed gravel on the bridge to a depth of 13 to 16 inches with an average depth of 14 inches, which far exceeded the specified load.”

In its lawsuit, the Rural Municipality of Clayton seeks damages for the cost of repairing and replacing the bridge and for the loss of use of the bridge.

Inertia not only claims that she did nothing wrong, but also “denies that the [RM] suffered the damages or losses alleged or not at all.…In the alternative, Inertia asserts that the losses or damages claimed by the plaintiff are too remote. In the alternative, Inertia asserts that the plaintiff failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate its losses, if any.”

The RMs of Scott, Caledonia, Purdue and Mervin also sued Gullacher and his companies, which built bridges in these RMs. The lawsuits note that after the Dyck Memorial Bridge collapsed, inspections commissioned by the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities raised concerns about “deficiencies” in the design and construction of the other bridges.

As a result of the inspections, weight restrictions were imposed on the bridges.

In response, Gullacher and his companies say the bridges are designed and built to proper specifications, and there are no issues with them. The defense statement states that “any weight restriction imposed with respect to the bridge is unnecessary and was imposed without consultation” with Gullacher or his companies.

According to Gullacher’s LinkedIn profile, he left his company Inertia Solutions in July 2019 and started Driftstone Consulting, a Regina-based engineering firm. He was a director and shareholder.

However, according to the Companies Registry, he resigned as a director at the end of last month and is no longer a shareholder.

CBC called Gullacher’s phone number. The woman who answered said Gullacher didn’t want to speak with CBC, then hung up.

RM wanted to build a “cheaper” bridge

The Rural Municipality of Clayton hired Gullacher’s construction company, Can-Struct, in early July 2018 to design and build the bridge.

Earlier that year, the RM had turned down $750,000 in provincial funding for the bridge because it was tied to the province’s strict technical specifications for the bridge. RM officials believed these requirements were overstated and would have made the bridge unnecessarily expensive.

“This bridge is above our needs,” Kelly Rea, then RM’s administrator, said in a public forum. “We don’t need this bridge.”

WATCH | Kelly Rea of ​​the Rural Municipality of Clayton raised concerns about the interim funding criteria:

Kelly Rea of ​​the Rural Municipality of Clayton concerned about interim funding criteria

Kelly Rea of ​​the Rural Municipality of Clayton concerned about interim funding criteria

The most expensive bridge in the province would have cost a total of $1.075 million. Since the province said it would cover $750,000, the RM would have been responsible for $325,000.

In other words, the ‘most expensive bridge’ in the province would have cost the RM exactly the same amount as the bridge it ended up approving – which collapsed shortly after it officially opened.

Late last year, RM put out a tender for a new bridge.

The lowest bidder and the winner of the competition was Harbuilt Construction. His bid was $1,923,786.06 including taxes.

CBC asked the MR for an update on the reconstruction project, but he did not respond.